Frost proves catastrophic for Swiss winegrowers
Around 90 percent of flowering vines in central Switzerland were destroyed by frost over the past few nights, a wine expert has told news agencies.
Beat Felder, in charge of viticulture for the region told local television he hadn’t seen such destruction since 1998.
The damage could result in a loss of three million francs, he added, though hopefully the 60 affected winegrowers may be able to recoup some of that if other vines flower later in the season.
The news comes after several consecutive frosty nights in Switzerland where temperatures fell to below zero during the second half of last week.
Three frosty nights in a row is “extremely unusual for the second half of April”, MeteoNews said in a statement on Saturday.
“The damage for fruit and wine growers is considerable,” it added.
While wine production in central Swiss regions only makes up 0.5 percent of Switzerland’s total, the country’s largest wine producing, the Valais, has also suffered badly in the past week.
One Valais winegrower told local paper Le Nouvelliste that the situation is a “catastrophe” after temperatures of -3 degrees destroyed all his flowering vines in one particular area.
Another told the paper that a quarter of winegrowers in the area had seen 90-100 percent of their crop destroyed, something he had “never seen” before.
Speaking to the paper Pierre-Antoine Heritier, president of a winegrowing federation, said 550 hectares of vines were affected on the first night of frost alone, which could result in the loss of five million litres of wine.
Winegrowers are attempting to combat the icy nights by erecting anti-frost candles among the vines to fend off the chill, creating some beautiful images captured by Le Nouvelliste here.
It’s not just the grapes that are in danger. Apricots, cherries and asparagus crops are also threatened by the low temperatures.
And there’s more bad news to come. Though daytime temperatures are expected to reach up to 20 degrees in some parts on Monday, that will drop sharply during the week with snowfall likely even on the lowlands by Wednesday and for the rest of the week, according to MeteoNews.
That’s in stark contrast to the first half of April which was mild, with temperatures surpassing 20 degrees in many places.