When picturing France, we can’t help but imagine a good glass of wine (or make it two). Whether you’re a fan of red, white or rosé: the French have it all and they’re very serious about it too. And if you’ve had the chance to make a little road trip through the country before, you’ll know that vineyards are a common sight. Yet for a couple of years now, there’s another, very fairylike scene to be spotted at those same vineyards. Sadly, it’s one with a very sour aftertaste.
Maybe you’ve seen them while scrolling through Facebook, maybe you’ve spotted a small video outtake on the news, maybe you’ve never heard about the phenomenon. We’re talking about the French vineyards getting lit by a thousand lights, lighting up the sky in the middle of the night. Even though at first sight, this might look like a scene taken straight out of a romantic movie, the reality is a lot grimmer. No, winegrowers aren’t doing this out of a sense of romance. The lights aren’t even candles, they’re actually small fires preventing the vines from freezing. Because if they freeze, there’ll be no grapes and therefore no wine.
1. Global warming
It may sound strange, yet the phenomenon is actually caused by the global warming. Winters get warmer and warmer, meaning the vines are at sea. They believe spring has sprung and start to develop buds. But as late frosts get more and more common too, their enthusiasm gets punished. While they’re putting all their energy into their buds, the cold temperatures at night creep up on them. And then, all of a sudden, it’s too late. The buds get frozen and die off. Meaning the vines produce a lot less grapes and therefore a lot less wine, leaving the winegrowers are left empty-handed, especially in hard times like these.
2. Light my fire
In their fight against nature and global warming, the winegrowers came up with a solution. As it’s the frost damaging their vineyards, it’s essential to heat them up. As you can’t put a real heating system in a vineyard, they use small fires to make temperatures rise by 2 or 3 degrees Celsius. Which might not seem like a lot, yet those few degrees can make a world of difference to the vines. But when the frost is too mean, no fire can help and the vines are lost anyway.
As there’s no real solution to the problem just yet, the best thing you can do right now is support winegrowers by buying their products. And let’s be honest, buying a good bottle of wine isn’t exactly a punishment.