On May 27, Cognac was hit with a hailstorm that seriously affected the region’s many vineyards.
Alexandre Gabriel, the proprietor of Maison Ferrand and vineyard owner, provided an update on the situation of the company’s vineyards.
Mr. Gabriel said: “During the hailstorms the last few days, a small part of our vineyard was affected… 50% of the vines in 30 hectares of our vineyards suffered damage.”
“Our thoughts and support go out to our neighbors, who were more severely affected. While it is a bit early to estimate, 3,500 hectares of the Cognac region sustained damage to 80% of its vines, and another 10,000 hectares saw 20% destruction of the crop.”
“We hope that we will not be surprised by yet another storm… Today, our priority is to heal our vineyards! Continuing to amaze you with our cognacs is our greatest pride.”
According to trade body the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC), 3,500 hectares of vineyards suffered 80% destruction. The group will not look to continue its efforts with the General Union of Viticulturists for AOC Cognac (UGVC), the Comité National du Pineau des Charentes, the Syndicate of Producers and Promotion of Charentais Wines, and the Chamber of Agriculture in order to provide the maximum amount of support for those worse affected.
Overall, more than 10,000 hectares throughout the Cognac area were struck “to varying degrees” by what were rapid onset and particularly intense hailstorms that hit the region on Saturday 26 May.
Large hail fell predominantly in the southern part of Charente-Maritime, the Borderies, the west of Matha and the Rouillac area, according to the BNIC organization.
Speaking on his role and the core mission for Maison Ferrand, Mr. Gabriel said: “While 90% of the Cognac sold throughout the world comes from four large companies, we felt our mission was to bring Cognac back to its roots. So we put people in place and even brought the former manager of another cognac house out of retirement to help advise us.”
“I was still in business school and when an assignment I had took me to New York and Tokyo it was a blessing for Cognac Ferrand. When I wasn’t working on the assignment, I would trade in my jeans and T-shirt for a suit and tie and I’d go and meet potential spirit distributors. The Cognac spoke eloquently, for itself – it just needed someone who was enthusiastic and driven.”
After what was a wonderful year for Cognac last year, the storms could not have come at a worse time for the industry, which will have been looking to capitalize on massive sales improvements with even better products in higher volumes.
That said, the industry in centuries-old and has found ways to bounce back from terrible devastation before. Although this was a particularly violent storm, the region’s legendary vineyards will surely use all of their creativity and heritage to come back even stronger than before and continue to thrill connoisseurs the world-over.