The dead of a cold April night, and in vineyards across France and the southern counties of England, hundreds of bright fires are burning like beacons. The reason: Jack Frost, whose silent, icy fingers must not be allowed to grasp the tender new buds on which the year’s crop of grapes depends.
“We were getting up at 1am and running through until 7am, setting light to vine prunings in about 100 oil drums, trying to keep the air warm enough around the new shoots,” says Ian Kellett, founder and managing director of Hambledon in Hampshire.
The severe frosts at the end of last month hit vineyards across Europe, striking as far south as Tuscany, and causing huge damage in the Loire, Champagne, Burgundy, Cognac, the Languedoc, England, Prosecco, the Jura, Germany and in Bordeaux. At this point in the year the effect on production is hard to gauge, but Allan Sichel, president of the Bordeaux Wine...
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