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Hail storms leave major damage to French vineyards

Sunday, July 28, 2013, 1:21 PM - Some of France's most famous vineyards suffered major damage this week after hail storms lashed crops.

France's Burgundy wine region was lashed by severe hail storms this week, flooding several areas and destroying crops. 

Some of the worst hit places were the highly acclaimed Beaune, Volnay, Pommard and Savigny-lès-Beaune appellations. 

Strong winds, reaching over 100 km/h, ripped leaves off vines and caused grapes to burst, while hail pounded whatever was left over.

This weekend, roads between Pommard and Volnay were flooded by torrents of mud still running from vineyards.

Hail pieces were large, with many reported as big as a baseball. 

France had been under a major heat wave this past week and that fueled the damaging storms. More active weather is possible in the coming days.  

Wine experts believe some areas lost as much as 90 percent of their crop during the storms while many others could see at least 70 percent damage. 

It could take over three years to recover.

Prior to the storm, France's Agriculture Ministry predicted appellation wine volume would increase 34 percent to 2.31 million hectolitres. That would have been a major recovery from last year's 30 percent slump after a late frost and hail storm caused disease, damaging fruit. 

The region is known for its dry, red Pinot Noir, and white Chardonnay grapes. 

France's Burgundy region produces some of the best Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines in the world (Photo courtesy Megan Mallen)

France's Burgundy region produces some of the best Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines in the world (Photo courtesy Megan Mallen)

If there are major shortages in this year's harvest, prices of the wine could soar. 

The Burgundy and Savigny-les-Beaune region has some of France's most expensive wine real estate.

Some large cru (French term used to indicate high quality vineyards and the vines that grow off it) properties could easily fetch over $5 million (US) for just 1 hectare of land. 

According to statistics, France's 7th largest wine producing region in 2011 was Burgundy. 

It produced the most expensive wines, with an average supermarket price in 2011 of $11.50 (US) per liter versus $8.30 (US) for Bordeaux.

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