One of the nightmares that plague the winegrower’s nights is “white frost” (called “Gelée Blanche” in French). The vineyards located at the northernmost limit of vine production are the most prone to it (many of the best wines in the world are made at this limit). The threat in French and German vineyards, from April 1 to May 15, theoretically lasts for roughly six weeks, or until the Ice Saints have passed.

Nevertheless, there are notable exceptions: on May 28, 1961, the Pouilly-sur-Loire vineyard was completely destroyed, and we occasionally witnessed the Chablis vineyard freezing in June. It is disheartening to consider that just 3 or 4°C during these crucial weeks is sufficient to completely or partially damage an entire year’s worth of labor and jeopardize upcoming harvests. As a result, the most vulnerable vineyards are putting plans in place. Equipment to heat the vines has been installed in the vineyards of the Loire, Chablis, and Moselle. Inherently more exposed than vineyards on hillsides are those found close to the bottom of slopes. They also make a lot less expensive wine. Winegrowers are slowly leaving these locations, which causes a progressive shift to higher-quality sites.

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