A freak hailstorm has struck France in Languedoc leaving residents in shock after the storm reportedly wiped out half the grape crop just days away from the start of harvest. The sudden storm arrived in the Hérault department on Wednesday afternoon and pelted the vineyards – especially in the area around Pic Saint-Loup – with hailstones the size of golfballs, according to French media reports.

In the village of Lauret, where the storm was at its fiercest, some vineyards were wiped out, according to Mas de l’Oncle winemaker Fabrice Bonmarchand. Bonmarchand, who has been in the region for five years, said he had never seen a storm like it. “I don’t have much experience of this kind of disaster, but I was speaking to the former winemaker, who is 92, and he told me this morning that he can’t remember as violent an incident of hail either.” CONTINUE