Why French Winemakers Are Welcoming Bats to Their Vineyards

Bats in the vineyardThe winged creatures may help the wine industry salvage a terrible year

It’s not such a batty idea: Bordeaux wine producers are building bat-friendly habitats on their vineyards to help eradicate the issue of grapevine moth and grape berry moth infestation.

And in doing so, they’re hoping to salvage a beleaguered French wine industry that’s suffering not only from pests but high tariffs, climate change and the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, all of which is decimating sales of high-end wine bottles.

As Forbes reports, wine producers in France are creating strips of grass between the vines and building bat boxes; the hope is that the insect-eating mammals will eradicate the moths that cause botrytis, a gray mold that’s seriously hurt the industry before, particularly Champagne.

A Bordeaux-based scientist has been catching bats in nets and testing for the moths in their digestive systems; unfortunately, even their presence can’t prove if the yields will increase, as there are too many factors (such as climate) that change every year.

Source: Why French Winemakers Are Welcoming Bats to Their Vineyards – InsideHook

Five places to buy French vineyards on a budget

Less prestigious appellations can offer interesting value to those looking to buy French vineyards on a tighter budget, to kick-start a long-held winemaking dream.

Appellation (AOP) vines outside of Champagne cost €74,900 per hectare on average in 2019, but several areas were below €20,000, show figures released this summer by land agency Safer.

If you’re not so bothered about having the AOP status, then non-appellation vines were down at €14,400 on average across France.

It’s also possible to buy land not currently used for vineyards. ‘You would need to apply for planting rights, but you can get them,’ said Kirsten Pollard, of estate agency Maxwell-Baynes, affiliated to Christie’s International Real Estate.

But she said this strategy would be a ‘long way round’, and that buying an existing vineyard can save time and carry fewer risks.

It would be even more important to do your research on the terroir, too.

Pollard, who generally specialises in higher-end properties and covers south-west France, including Cahors and the Dordogne, said that €1.5m might buy you a stone house with several bedrooms, a pool and around 10 to 20ha of vines – albeit perhaps needing some work.

Although it can be ‘quite hard to make money’ from a vineyard at this sort of level, she said it was important to think about potential sales networks.

For example, that might include tapping into the new generation of natural wine bars around the world, or building partnerships with local restaurants.

Pollard highlighted an organic and natural wine estate that she sold a few years ago for €850,000 to a 40-year-old Czech buyer. The property included 15ha of vines near to Cahors but not in an appellation zone.

Some buyers are also looking for ‘hobby’ vineyards that don’t necessary need to turn a commercial profit, as previously reported.

Don’t underestimate the amount of potential work – or cost – involved in running a vineyard, but here are five places to look based on Safer figures.

Languedoc-Roussillon

Buy French vineyards

Vines in Corbières at sunrise. Photo credit: Ian Badley / Alamy Stock Photo.

AOP vines in Languedoc-Roussillon cost an average €12,700 per hectare in 2019, up by €200 versus 2018 but still making the vast region one of the cheapest places to buy vines.

However, the region is so big that you’ll find a lot of variation, and you would naturally expect to pay more in one of the area’s more prestigious zones, such as Terrasses du Larzac, La Clape or Pic-St-Loup.

According to Safer, Languedoc has seen a relatively high number of vineyard deals in recent years, compared to other regions.

Prices haven’t risen everywhere, however. The average price of Corbières vines has been around €9,000 for the past few years, for instance.

‘There are many vineyards for sale in Corbières and Minervois because a lot of winegrowers are retiring,’ Aurelia Mistral-Bernard, of the Montpellier branch of estate agency network Vinea Transaction, told Decanter.com recently.

Continue reading “Five places to buy French vineyards on a budget”

Reaching the bottom of the barrel: Coronavirus pandemic batters European wine production

 

It’s an ancient beverage turned cultural icon, so cherished in France that the legendary Victor Hugo once provocatively wrote: “God made only water – but man made wine”. Aside from being a staple at many family dinner tables, wine is also a massive European industry – and one that’s going through its own coronavirus-induced crisis. This in a sector that was already battling against 25% tariffs imposed by Donald Trump in 2019 that have seen exports slump.

Source: Reaching the bottom of the barrel: Coronavirus pandemic batters European wine production – Talking Europe

Paris’ hidden vineyards

Tucked amid the city’s urban sprawl, dozens of secluded vineyards dot the French capital and produce some of France’s most exclusive wines.

When I first met Irene Henriques, it was the hottest-recorded week in French history. She was standing at the foot of her vineyard wearing long trousers and a thick khaki workman’s coat. When I asked how she wasn’t melting, she laughed and replied in her soft-spoken voice, “After 30 years of wine-growing, you get used to it.”

Gesturing towards the rolling, bucolic hill behind us, Henriques begged, “It’s beautiful, no?” I had to agree. The land that she and her team have spent decades cultivating looks like a Rococo painting come to life; an Arcadian vision of the French countryside. Climbing wisteria and lilacs line the surrounding iron fence, while apple and pear trees provide much-needed shade. Henriques’ most important crops, the Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Muscat grapes, crown the hill, gorging themselves on sunlight.

France has strict vine-planting regulations, and until recently, only certain regions – including Bordeaux, Bourgogne and Champagne – could bottle and sell wine commercially. But in 2016, an EU-mandated liberalisation of the French wine sector extended the right to sell wine commercially throughout most of France. Yet, wines produced within the French capital can still not be sold to commercial markets because of the perceived threat urban pollution may have on the grapes.

But the goal of Parisian vineyards was never to make money. So rather than going from wine cellars to wine sellers, the bottles have always been auctioned off to benefit the city during harvest time. Also, because the vines are owned and operated by the City of Paris, you can’t just go for a tasting or a tour, as you can in other French regions. Continue reading “Paris’ hidden vineyards”

Heat brings relief for French vineyards

Torrid temperatures across much of France have made the past few weeks unbearable for many, but with grape harvests kicking off this week, the country’s winemakers say the heat could not have come at a better time.

“Grape vines like the sun,” said Bernard Farges, president of the wine grower’s association for the Bordeaux and Bordeaux Superieur appellations.

“It rained a lot last spring in nearly all winegrowing regions, especially in the south… so the vines aren’t suffering from the drought,” he said.

Agriculture Minister Stephane Travert told AFP on Monday that this year’s grape output was expected to be “higher than average” after production was hit by weather-related losses last year [ . . . ]

Continue at Source: Heat brings relief for French vineyards