France's agriculture ministry said Friday that the country experienced one of the worst-ever year for wine production, as a devastating freeze in late spring drove production to "historically low" levels.
As a result of the devastating frost, wine production in the world's second-largest wine producing country is expected to fall to "historically low" levels in 2021, between 24% and 30%. This will result in production below 1991 and 2017 levels, when production was significantly reduced by similar late spring frosts that wiped out crops. The Ministry of Agriculture said the following in a statement:
"For now, it looks like the harvest will be comparable to that of 1977, a year when the grape harvest was reduced by both devastating frosts and summer rainstorms."
Referring to the department's findings, Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandy called the impact of the frost "probably the biggest agricultural disaster of the early 21st century."
The greatest damage was done back in April, when for several nights in the main wine-growing regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne and the Rhone Valley, frosts were observed, which had not been observed for several decades.
In addition to influencing the level of wine production, the ministry said that due to bad weather, the harvests of apricots, apples and kiwi were affected. Apricot production is set to fall to its lowest level in more than four decades - this year's harvest is half of what it was five years ago.
According to climate experts, crop damage in France is set to become more widespread. The World Weather Attribution organization, which studies the impact of global climate change, predicts that the likelihood of severe frosts will increase by 60%.