This Day in Weather History: Winemakers in France lit oil drums across their vineyard to avoid frost damage

On Sunday, Apr. 14, 2019, the famous wine region, Burgundy, France, was under a frost alert. The artisans who produced wine in that region, namely Chassagne-Montrachet, did what was necessary to protect the grapes from the chilly night.

An entire crop of grapes could be destroyed by a spring frost. During winter, grapevines are dormant, so they can easily withstand temperatures as cold as - 15 °C. In the spring, the vines start to sprout, and the buds and shoots are vulnerable to colder temperatures.

Frost occurs when the temperature drops below 0 °C. The buds and shoots that the vines produce have water in them, so when they freeze, the cell walls burst.

Winemakers try their best to limit vine frost damage so they employ strategies to keep their crops healthy. On Apr. 14, the team at Chassagne-Montrachet lit oil drums throughout their vineyards.

Some vineyards use large candles called bougies to give off heat. Winemakers have various techniques to keep their vines warm.

Winemakers in Burgundy will stay up overnight constantly checking the weather forecast for frost. As soon as temperatures drop below freezing, the vineyard's team quickly lights the bougies.

The team at Chassagne-Montrachet saved the vines and the grapes during the frost, but other vineyards faced serious damage.