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Memory: Cognac Vineyard Frost 1991

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Cognac Vineyard Owners Assess the Damage of the Spring Frost

In late April a spring frost struck the Cognac region. Vineyard owners feared initially that the April frost would create the type of devastation that the April 1991 frost had wreaked on their crops. In 1991, nearly 80% of the crops of some of the cognac growing crus were destroyed. This year fires were lit to warm the vines and helicopters hovered overhead in an attempt to prevent the frosty air from settling on the newly budded vines.

A destruction of vines is never a good thing. When there is a record demand for cognac and eaux-de-vie stocks are running low, a loss of crops is especially inopportune.

Cognac Islands Not Impacted by the April Frost

The President of the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC), Bernard de Larquier told Le Monde that all areas of the cognac growing regions, other than the islands of Ré and Oléron were impacted negatively by the April frost. The islands of Ré and Oléron do not produce significant quantities of grapes for cognac. Camus produces craft cognacs from the Isle de Ré and Vignerons d’Oléron, a maker of wines, sparkling wines and Pineau des Charentes on the Isle de Oléron produces a limited amount of cognac.

Vineyard in France,Charente.

Damage Not Yet Quantified

Monsier de Larquier could not yet give an assessment of the frost damage and noted optimistically to Le Monde “Sometimes only the first bud has frozen, a counter-bud can come out and give a crop, even if it’s only 20% to 40% comparable to a normal year.”

Cognac’s largest producer, Hennessy recently warned that it anticipated a shortage of its VS cognac later this year due to skyrocketing demand. Hennessy noted that it expected growth rates to slow and that it would be able to meet demand after a temporary shortage eased. Heavy crop damage and continued demand may, however, extend the VS shortage expected later this year.

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