GDP on Wine

Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz

Hail in Barolo

Posted by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jul 9, 2014.

As you may have heard the barolo region was hit by a massive hail storm late yesterday afternoon.

I've heard that there is serious damage in Monforte, Ginestra and Gavarini in particular though  follow-up report by SNOOTHER 1519584, has shown these early reports to be less than accurate. though  modest damage west of Barolo and skirting up towards La Morra seem to accurately reflect the situation on the ground with a little hail also falling in Roddi and Verduno but no reports on damage yet.



Just got another report. Damage widespread, like throughout the Barolo zone, though centered on Barolo and Monforte, where losses are running 20% to 50%, particularly along hilltop sites. Losses in Grinzane Cavour and Diano d'Alba as well, but much less affected.

The hailstones themselves were very large and even those with hail netting in place suffered damage. It's storming now as well so folks have not been able to get in to the vineyards much, but tomorrow or the next day they'll have to get through the vineyards to spray so I expect we'll have a complete impression of damage by the weekend.


Reply by JonDerry, Jul 9, 2014.


Reply by dmcker, Jul 9, 2014.

Even some of the world's greatest viticulturalists, with all the magic they can bring to bear, are underneath it all just farmers, subject to the exigencies of the weather. And this sounds like particularly nasty weather.

Guess this doesn't bode well for prices on the 2014 vintage, either.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jul 10, 2014.

Extra sad because the early season was looking promising, although things were a little bit behind.  In May the weather was absolutely spectacular, so much so that GdP kept telling us that he'd never seen such clear skies at that time of year.  That didn't promise much for the vintage, because it was so early with so much to go, and the early season is more determinative of yield than quality in pretty much any wine region, but, still, things were looking up.  It's still early enough that the quality of grapes that survive could be good, but yields will be down and everyone will be on guard, since leaf canopies will also be shredded.

France got hammered with hail again, too. No one storm can be attributed to global climate change, but this many years of violent weather is an anomaly, to be sure. 

Interestingly enough, my expectation for the coastal areas of California, at least where grapes are grown, is increasingly dry winters (and, always, dry summers), but summers moderated by more fog and cooling breezes than ever.  Why?  Because fog is created by the convection currents created by hot air rising in the Central Valley, and the Central Valley will be hotter than ever, on average, pulling more fog off the ocean and carrying it farther inland in many cases.  From the early 90s to 2010 or so, every place was getting warmer, but we've hit a tipping point and I expect that we'll get MORE fog and cooling wind now.  But we'll also see heat spikes like never before.  I see a return to classic Cabs, not jammy ones, at least up the valley and not on the floor, but some growers seeking ripeness will start cutting back canopies or exposing fruit with trellising choices and suffer sunburn during those spikes.

Reply by Jeremy Parzen, Jul 10, 2014.

Sorry to read this but great reporting Gregory. Thanks for this. 

Reply by Snoother 1519584, Jul 11, 2014.

Just to correct the information. The eatstern side of Monforte - Località Torricella - received the worst. If you have ever visited "Gavarini" you would have  seen the hill that shadows the vineyard which helped protect  the vineyard  from the storm. The top rows of vines at the  (original) "Ginestra"  were the ones slightly affected. Hail damage is  not that bad - botryis - is now an issue due to split and cracked berries.

Reply by dmcker, Jul 11, 2014.

Snoother 15196584. Thanks for the updated info. Seems that you're based in Italy. Anything more you can tell us about wines in the area, and your involvement? Always great to have forum members from important growing areas!


And Fox, how do you explain all that fog down in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. Not so sure the Central Valley is the influence there it is further north...

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jul 11, 2014.

No, the fog there is somewhat different.  All the fog forms as a result of the temp differences between the water and the air, but the movement of the fog on the Central Coast is more uniform (mostly) because they don't get the huge effect from the Central Valley.  The Central Coast is unusual because they have a number of small east -west running valleys.  So the inland areas heat up (SLO is a lot hotter than Cayucos, and Paso hotter still) albeit not quite like the Central Valley.  That pulls the fog up those valleys; on the coastal range, it blankets the west side, but it won't (as a rule) be quite as thick as SF's fog, and it doesn't go as far inland.  They'll see some similar effects--areas that are too hot will probably get worse, and some areas will see more intense fog--but I think the Central Coast will look more like the rest of the world than the Bay Area does.  Which is not to say global warming won't hurt the Bay Area.  Drought, rising sea level, unusually intense weather events, those will happen. Winters will be warmer, too, but summers will not, paradoxically,  in my guess.  But it's going to be down to microclimates, too. 

Other big effect is going to be the spread of warm weather pests to the north, and the inability of current flora to adapt easily to new and different weather.  A huge number of plants (including grapes, duh) are non-native in the Bay Area, but changing things rapidly will make things worse, not better.  Interestingly, a couple native species, like Manzanita, which are drought tolerant to a high degree, might benefit.  But small consolation if, for instance, redwoods are badly affected.

Interesting about Barolo's damage being limited.  Snoother 15196584, please keep us updates, since it sounds like you have boots on the ground.

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