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“When you work with nature, you know she has the last word”

For a week the spring temperature has been at 5°C. With our winegrower friends, a fight against the cold has begun: for 3 nights in a row they watched their thermometer and their vines, hoping not to be too affected by the frost! This cold that affects France continues this week.

We have at Oé many of our winegrowers who are affected by the frost, including Clémentine in the Jura and Anne-Cécile in Alsace, they have agreed to tell how they experience this episode.

- How is the estate and you, winegrowers?

Clémentine: "It's the same for everyone, we're in high spirits. We froze last week, we lost a large part of the harvest! We've had climatic hazards for 6 years now, we can't get a normal harvest anymore. Here it's quite early too, because it's only the beginning of spring so there's still a lot of things that can happen: hail and frost up to the Saints of ice (May 15) And this is only the beginning!

Everything happened very quickly, there are domains in the south of the Jura which have lost up to 90%, for them the year 2017 will not exist... It's a shame, we were off to a good start for 2017! Spring started too quickly: we were 3 weeks early, I was going to take photos to show on the networks how well the vine had progressed... It hadn't happened for 26 years: the last year, it was in 1991, my year of birth!"

- Were you prepared for this brutal cold?

Clémentine: "It's part of our job: we play with the vagaries of the weather, it's something we can't control. Every year it's the same, we always have a little anxiety when spring arrives The problem is that we can't do much, except wait and endure the weather. We don't have the means in the Jura to fight against frost, we have plots very scattered in the vineyard. On 24 hectares of vines, it's not possible to light fires. We know when it's going to happen but we can't do much about it!"

- Will the vine come back to life?

Clémentine: "The vine has fruiting buds, which it prepares the previous year, that is to say that the buds which were frozen today were prepared last year. The fruiting buds are those which were going to have the bunches that would have given the grapes this year: these are the buds that have snuffed out! The vine will continue to grow, it will still vegetate: we will have leaves, there will be other buds that will appear. On the other hand, these second buds are not fruit buds, they will be neutral and will not bear any fruit! This will be a problem for us for the rest of the year, because in any case, grapes or no grapes, we will have to take care of of the vine exactly as if it were a productive vine... with exactly the same costs per hectare!"

Can you give us an inventory of the vineyard?

Anne-Cécile: "In Alsace we were still affected. On our farm, we have 3 hectares that have been 100% grilled so these are 3 hectares where we will not harvest anything at all. For the remaining 11 hectares it varies between 30% and 60% losses.

Which grape variety was the most affected?

Anne-Cécile: "It was the early grape varieties that were the most affected, especially Gewurztraminer. The buds came out very early and Gewurztraminer is still the most pressed grape variety so it was already well developed: practically all the buds were already outside. The later varieties such as Riesling where the buds had not all come out were more protected. Those not left out during the frost still have a chance to develop properly and give grapes."

How's morale?

Anne-Cécile: " This is my eighth vintage this year and out of 8 vintages I have only known 1 normal vintage. 2016 was a vintage where we had quality and above all quantity because we had not had otherwise, each year, we pay for either coulure because the weather is not nice during flowering, or hail, or drought or, on the contrary, too much rain... When we work with nature, we know that it is always she who has the last word in the end! The elders have a habit of saying that the years in 7 are bad years, this is confirmed again in 2017! In 2007 we had hail over a large part of the vineyard so we didn't harvest much either and in 1997 my father told me that it was not a good year for the estate. It was really bad timing: it was hot too early!We had crazy temperatures, we had in the 24°C for several days in a row and that, the vine likes it! If we had had this frost episode at the time in a normal year, the buds would not have come out and the frost episode would have gone unnoticed!"

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