The Sunday Mail (Queensland)

Vintners light fires to save vines

-

WINEMAKERS have lit thousands of small fires to ward off frost which is set to badly hit this year’s production, according to industry experts.

The vineyard fires have caused a layer of smog in the southeast of France, local authoritie­s reported.

The practice of lighting fires or candles near vines or fruit trees to prevent the formation of frost is a long-standing technique used in early spring when the first green shoots are vulnerable to the cold.

Whole hillsides look as if they are ablaze, creating a striking visual effect, with winemakers scrambling this week as temperatur­es plunged to below freezing, particular­ly in the fertile Rhone valley in southeast France.

The frost which has hit a large proportion of French vineyards in recent days is “one of the most serious in recent decades” and will cut production of the year, the CNIV national winemakers’ associatio­n warned.

“We already know that we will have a very low harvest in 2021,” said Jean-Marie Barillere, head of the Comite Europeen des Entreprise­s Vins, a European wine trade group.

The frost has “affected 80 per cent of French vineyards”, he said. “Arborists and wine growers have just suffered a dark week.”

Regional air quality monitoring body Atmo AuvergneRh­one-Alpes issued a warning about the fire-induced finepartic­le pollution in the southeast region which includes the city of Lyon where a layer of smog was visible.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia