The story of 2021 for the wine industry in most of France is going to be the devastating frost that might reduce the crop by half or more, nationwide.
Until I got an email this morning from a winery in Tuscany, I wasn't aware that Italy faced the same fear. Nor, I'm sorry to say, do I know anything about the extent of the damage in Italy.
Take a look at these photos taken on the nights of Apr. 7 and 8 by Enea Barbieri at Tenuta di Trinoro in the Val d'Orcia region of Tuscany. Val d'Orcia is right next to Montalcino, so if it experienced a frost event last week, it's likely that Montalcino did also, and I worry about nearby Montepulciano as well.
The PR firm that sent the photos didn't say anything about damage to the grapes. Temperatures apparently reached -4.5º Celsius. The vines themselves are not at risk from temperatures that low but after budbreak, it is possible to lose that year's crop.
Thus the winery staff of 36 spent the day and night placing 3000 impromptu candles made of buckets filled with wax.
The press release says, "At Tenuta di Trinoro operations started at around midnight, with careful monitoring of the falling temperatures, until fire had to be set to stacks of firewood piled around the vineyards; then the 3.000 candles were lit. This kept the air around the plants above 0° degrees, while all around the vineyards, temperatures as low as 4.5° below freezing point were registered."
Pre-pandemic I had the privilege of visiting Tuscany often and, in addition to making some of the world's best wines, it is a beautiful place. Art is a part of life there, so perhaps it's not surprising that photographer Enea Barbieri could find aesthetic inspiration in difficult circumstances.
There's nothing more I can say but to send my best wishes to the vignerons of France and of Tuscany for better weather going forward in this challenging year. And thanks to Tenuta di Trinoro for turning trauma into inspiration.