California’s Napa and Sonoma counties were not prepared when the devastating and widespread wildfires overtook the state in 2020. A deadly combination of high winds, sweltering temperatures, and freak lightning storms led to 4.2 million acres of land being burnt down, a record in the state’s history.
One year later and halfway across the world, the bustling winemaking region of Provence, France faced its own version of these deadly wildfires. Vineyards used to make famous rosé were burnt to the ground, along with homes and forests in what is being called the region’s worst wildfire in 20 years.
The fire began in the Var region and spread outwards due to high winds, according to the BBC. Nearly 7,100 hectares (17,500 acres) of land is now damaged, affecting around 73 wineries and 5 cooperatives.
“There are three vineyards close to us which have been completely destroyed, it’s truly devastating,” Stephen Cronk, founder of Maison Mirabeau winery, tells BBC.
Officials plan to send a drone around the region once the smoke clears, in order to better assess damage to nearby vineyards and estates. Fires are commonplace in the area, but something of this intensity has only been seen a few times in recent history.
To make matters worse, France has undergone one of the worst frosts in 44 years, which has already threatened the country’s wine production for the year.
“We’ve been hit by two ‘once-in-a-generation’ frosts, and now comes the worst forest fire in decades,” Cronk says. “For us, it’s uncertain whether we will harvest or not… It’s heartbreaking.”