The Cognac region was struck by a rare spring frost earlier this week. Temperatures were well below freezing early Thursday morning, threatening the region’s grape vines. To compound issues, Cognac’s grape vines had budded two weeks earlier than normal this year exposing the tender buds to the ravages of the frost.
According to SudOest, many vineyard owners tried to limit the damage wrought by mother nature with make-shift haystack fires near their vineyards in a vain attempt to warm their vines. Another group of vineyard owners enlisted the assistance of a helicopter to hover over their vines to prevent the frosty air from settling on the vines.
While the efficacy of these frost damage limiting attempts is yet unknown, experts believe they will have no impact. Some are comparing this week’s Cognac frost as similar to the frost in April 1991 when approximately 2/3 of the vineyards’ crops were destroyed.
Bad News for Cognac Producers
The loss of crops is never good news. This week’s frost, however, comes at a time when inventory stocks are stretched, due to record demand for cognac the past 18 months. Strong growing seasons are needed for Cognac makers to replenish their stocks of eaux-de-vie. This week’s frost can only further exacerbate future cognac inventory shortages.