PARIS (Reuters) – French wine production is expected to increase this year and the harvest could start soon after the warm weather, according to forecasts from the country’s Agriculture Ministry, just as Italy and France try to curb production premium to support prices.
In a report containing its first forecasts for 2020, the French Ministry of Agriculture forecast Friday production of 44.7 to 45.7 million hectoliters, an increase of 6 to 8% compared to last year and slightly above the country’s average for the past five years.
One hectolitre equals 100 liters, or 133 standard bottles of wine.
The vines generally benefited from favorable spring weather for flowering, although late blight disease affected parts of the southwest and hailstorms in the Bordeaux region caused production losses of up to 30%. in some areas, the ministry said.
A developing drought in France could curb the expected increase in production this year, he added.
A very hot spring left the vines much further along in their growth than last year, with the Loire Valley region showing a lead of up to a month, he said.
The prospect of an early wine grape harvest added to the headaches for producers reliant on seasonal labor who faced a shortage of foreign workers and stricter sanitation measures during the epidemic of the new coronavirus.
For the Champagne region, the ministry said the vines had good potential, but noted that the growers have yet to agree on an annual volume.
Champagne producers and houses are negotiating a production target, with some producers looking to cut production to support sparkling wine prices after the coronavirus crisis slashed sales.
Reporting by Gus Trompiz; Edited by Alexander Smith
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