Hailstorm deals 'catastrophic' damage to Burgundy vineyards

A summer hailstorm has caused "catastrophic" damage to prestigious vineyards in France's Burgundy region, with up to 70 percent of crops destroyed on some estates, local wine producers said Wednesday.

The storms on Tuesday, which saw strong hail accompanied by high winds, caused widespread damage in some of France's best-known areas for wine, including Cote de Beaune, Volnay, Pommard and Savigny-les-Beaune.

"It's catastrophic, some operations will not recover. There are losses of at least 30-40 percent, and that could rise to 70 percent," said Thiebault Huber, the head of the Volnay wine producers' union.

He said such heavy hail could do damage to vineyards that can last up to three years.

In Pommard, vineyard owner Jean-Louis Moissenet was despondent as he looked over his hectare (two acres) of vines, devastated by the storm.

"We worked all year and we've just lost everything," the 55-year-old said, fearing that 2013 would be another "rotten year" for the region.

The storm was the latest in a string of difficulties to hit Burgundy wine producers, including flooding in the spring and hailstorms last year that destroyed 60 percent of crops on some estates.

Two people were also hospitalised after Tuesday's storm. France's weather service was warning that more storms could hit on Wednesday.