Drought threatens this year’s vintage in the Gironde around Bordeaux, one of France’s most famous wine regions.
Meteorological experts say the country has just had its driest July since 1959.
Although vines thrive in an arid climate, there is only so much they can endure.
The French rural code prohibits irrigation from May 1 until harvest, however this year some growers have obtained a special permit to water their plants.
“The two people who are there each have a tube with a metal tip at the end that allows the water to go directly to the root of the vine,” explained Paulin Calvet, owner of Picque Caillou castle. “So that this water does not disperse anywhere but remains in the heart of the vine, so that the water really goes down the trunk to reach the roots directly”.
The oldest vines have deeper roots, so it is the youngest, aged between three and eight, that ask for water, about five liters per vine.
Plants also have their own built-in natural defense mechanisms to cope with drought conditions and high temperatures.
“The yellow leaves show that the vine is defending itself and will stop feeding some of the leaves to resist this water stress,” Calvet said.
Although some growers have been granted special permission to irrigate their vines, they are not allowed to use mains water. It must have come from a well.
The problem is that the wells are not as full as they usually are due to the lack of rainfall in recent seasons.
This is a difficult year for French vineyards.