Frost, drought hits wine production hard in Europe

BRUSSELS — The European Union is heading for its smallest grape harvest in 36 years with production down by as much as a third in some areas. The quality of the wines, though, is expected to be excellent.

The EU's Copa-Cogeca farm union announced Tuesday that spring hail and frost, combined with a sustained drought during the summer have hit the vines hard and will cut wine production to 145 million hectoliters, a level not seen since 1981.

Thierry Coste, the chairman of Copa-Cogeca wine division, said that overall the harvest in the 28-nation bloc will be down 14 percent. In France, production will be down 18 percent, and in Italy, the biggest wine producer in Europe, it will have sunk by 26 percent compared to last year.

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