Barolo and Barbaresco Battered

A violent rainstorm in northern Italy causes massive vineyard damage.

A violent rainstorm swept over northern Italy last week causing massive damage to the region's steep Barolo and Barbaresco vineyards. Mud slides and erosion created untold havoc to agriculture across Lombardy, Piemonte and parts of the Veneto.

The areas of Barolo and Barbaresco were especially hard hit because of the intensity of the storm on Monday, April 27th and the fact the earth was already saturated with water from previous storms. A hectare of cru vineyard in these parts can cost up to $600,000 to $800,000.

Traveling through the area in the days following the storm, roads were washed out near la Morra and Barolo and vineyard terracing was completely pulled out by mudslides. Vineyards owned by the Rizzi family in Barbaresco spanning to Elio Grasso in Barolo showed signs of tragic damage.

"I have never seen anything like it," said Cesare Benvenuto of Pio Cesare. "These are precious cru vineyards and it will be at least four years until newly planted vines are in production."

Italy's farmers' lobby, Coldiretti, announced that 2009 ranks among "the top ten most rainy years in two centuries." Heavy rain this winter caused flooding in Rome (including at the offices of Wine Enthusiast Magazine) and across the entire peninsula. Coldiretti estimates that rain damage to Italian agriculture this year is estimated at 100 million euros ($130 million).





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