Hail storms can be violent and the 20-minute storm that affected Crozes-Hermitage and part of Saint Joseph on June 15 was exceptionally violent. Some winegrowers saw their future harvest reduced by at least 50%. The hail storm then continued to Savoie and into Switzerland where the damaged continued. The hailstones were of a size that had rarely, perhaps never, been seen before in the area.
Hail is becoming more and more frequent and so are the different ways of protecting the vineyards. Some vineyards in the northern Rhone Valley are protected by a new technology from the two companies Selerys and Lacroix Defense. When hail is imminent, the wine producers send balloons inflated with helium into the clouds. Up there, at perhaps 600 meters altitude, the balloons release their cargo with hygroscopic salt which, if all goes well, provokes rain instead of hail or in any case diminishes the size of the hailstones.
The technology is combined with advanced radar that warns when hail is approaching. In France, they are also experimenting with more low-tech methods, such as hail nets.
Read more selerys
This post is also available in: Swedish