Wildfires: Provence wine producers assess impact of destruction

Author : dinataarya
Publish Date : 2021-08-24 18:37:14

Wildfires: Provence wine producers assess impact of destruction

Rosé winemakers in south-east France are assessing the impact of wildfires which began last week.

The blaze broke out in the Var region, close to the French Riviera, and was spread by strong winds.

Provence's wine producers' association, the CIVP, said it was unclear how much damage had been caused, and in-depth assessments were underway.

One winery owner told the BBC that any hit to supplies was likely to push up prices.

On Thursday, the National Federation of Agricultural Workers' Unions (FNSEA) said that although fires had mainly hit forests, several wine-growing areas were also heavily affected. It estimated the figure at 73 wineries and 5 cooperatives.

Jeany and Stephen Cronk are 
the founders of the Maison Mirabeau winery. 
The couple also bought their own vineyard, Domaine Mirabeau, in 2019.
"There are three vineyards close 
o us which have been completely destroyed, 
it's truly devastating," Mr Cronk said. At the Domaine, there is damage to the vines, outbuildings and surrounding forest.

Thousands flee wildfires near French Riviera
The impact on their crop isn't yet clear, because they say smoke taint may not be immediately obvious.

"For us, it's uncertain whether we will harvest or not," he said. "Personally, it's heartbreaking. We've been hit by two 'once-in-a-generation' frosts, and now comes the worst forest fire in decades."
Mr Cronk said: "We need to think more about climate change, and whether we are doing enough to protect these forests.

"We hope this will serve as a further wakeup call that these types of events will be more frequent and more devastating. We must do our best to prevent them from happening again."

He said he believed that, depending on the damage, the impact on supply could make wines from the region more expensive. He also argues landowners next to protected areas of forest should have permission to clear encroaching bushes off their land and create firebreaks, to reduce the risk.

Alexis Cornu, head winemaker at the MDCV group of estates and vineyards in Provence, said the main road between the estates had been briefly closed for safety reasons, but that the hard work of firemen had prevented the fire reaching their buildings.
Mr Cornu said no risk to supply was expected in the coming weeks. However, the fires had not yet been completely stopped.

When it's possible, the group plans to deploy a drone to judge how the vines have coped. But with power and water back on, they hope to be ready to start their harvest in the next few days.

"So far so good, it looks green,, Mr Cornu added. He said there was anger at the rules forbidding bush cutting or clearing, saying risk around the estates had been rising for years.

Fire is the latest problem to hit French wine producers. In April, rare deep frosts destroyed buds on grapevines in the vineyards of Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Languedoc and the Rhône valley.
Thousands of people, including tourists in campsites, have been moved to safety as firefighters tackle a wildfire close to the French Riviera.

Many were given only minutes to leave as hundreds of firefighters were deployed in the Var region to the west of Saint-Tropez.

Fire officials say the blaze broke out on Monday and has consumed some 6,000 hectares (14,820 acres).

Twenty people suffered smoke inhalation and six firefighters were hurt.

BBC TV presenter Geeta Guru-Murthy described fleeing on foot as flames approached on both sides of the road.

The fire ignited during an intense heatwave, with forecasters expecting temperatures of up to 35C on Tuesday. President Emmanuel Macron, who was on holiday in the area, visited firefighters who were trying to bring the fires under control.

Southern France is the latest area in Europe to be ravaged by wildfires this summer as temperatures soar to record levels around the Mediterranean.

Scientists say heatwaves are becoming more likely and more extreme because of climate change driven by human-induced carbon emissions.

Greece, Turkey, Spain and Portugal are among the countries that have been grappling with wildfires that have claimed lives and destroyed homes.

ANALYSIS: The burning issue of wildfires
EXPLAINER: How are wildfires linked to climate change?
The blaze in southern France started near the village of Gonfaron, about 50km (30 miles) west of of Saint-Tropez.

By Tuesday morning, it had swept across more than 5,000 hectares of forest and scrubland, the local fire department said.

Firefighting aircraft dumped water to help douse the flames. Var's local government said 900 firefighters and 120 police had been deployed.
Most of the evacuations took place around the villages of La Môle and Grimaud.

Seven campsites were cleared of tourists, a local official told BFMTV, and some were destroyed by the fire as the flames - fanned by strong winds - spread rapidly.

Guru-Murthy described how she and her family had tried to escape with their car in Cogolin, just to the west of the Gulf of Saint-Tropez, but the flames became too intense.

"We tried to turn around and the car went into a ditch, so we had to run a mile in the only direction we could go to, with huge fires on both sides of the road," she said.

Tourists and residents in those areas have been sheltering in town halls, colleges and gyms. The owner of a local restaurant and equestrian centre in Grimaud, Gino Colanesi, said his horses had been saved but everything had been razed to the ground.

Category : business

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