PARIS (Reuters) – A violent hailstorm that hit the Bordeaux wine region last Friday has caused severe damage, with several hundred hectares of vines nearly destroyed, notably in the famous Saint-Emilion region, the local chamber of agriculture said on Tuesday.

This comes at a time when French wine makers are already suffering from a slowdown in consumption due to the closure of restaurants and bars worldwide in a bid to contain the new coronavirus, as well as from lower exports caused by extra U.S. tariffs on French wine since late last year.

“It was the last thing we needed,” the chamber of agriculture of the Gironde region, which encompasses all Bordeaux vineyards, said in a statement.

“According to our first estimates, between 600 and 800 hectares of vines would be damaged by more than 80%,” it said.

The storm caused damage in a South West-North-East corridor from the centre of the Entre-Deux Mers area to Saint-Emilion and Castillon up to the Dordogne region, the chamber said.

There are about 110,000 hectares of vines in the entire Bordeaux vineyard, the second-largest wine producing region in France after Languedoc Roussillon.

Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; Editing by Gareth Jones

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