France’s wine production is set to plummet by 18% this year after a spring frost damaged vines across the country, the French government said.
The forecast from the agriculture ministry echoes warnings from winemakers after bitterly cold weather struck twice in a week in April.
Wine expert Gilbert Winfield told Sky News that bottles from affected regions would “inevitably” become more expensive.
The French government expects the wine harvest for 2017 to yield 37.2 million hectolitres, 18% down on 2016 and 17% below the average for the last five years.
It comes after Jerome Despey, head of a governmental wine advisory board, last week said he expected a 40% drop in Bordeaux, France’s largest wine growing region, and a 30% fall in Alsace, which mainly produces white wine.
Image: Workers and wine growers light heaters to protect vineyards from frost damage
In 2016, the sector had already suffered one of the poorest harvests in 30 years.
This year, April frosts ravaged fragile shoots and buds that had emerged prematurely after mild temperatures in March.
Winemakers in Bordeaux tried to combat the bitter cold by setting fires to oil drums and carefully placing them between rows of budding grapevines.
Giant fans were also deployed to try to stop the cold, damp air settling on the plants.
The Loire valley also suffered from the frost.
Image: France is expected to produce 37.2 million hectolitres of wine this year
Exceptionally dry weather over the summer has subsequently had an effect on harvests in the south.
It has accelerated maturation of the crop but resulted in smaller grapes that are expected to yield a memorable vintage.
Winemakers in the southeast have begun harvesting the grapes some two weeks early.