Changing the weather is the stuff of science fiction, but in the Burgundy wine region of France, it’s de rigueur.
This year, the vineyards in Burgundy will become the first in France to be entirely covered by a “hailstone shield,” the Telegraph reports. The shield will serve as a body suit of armor, but the body is made up of delicious and coveted wine grapes and the shield is made up of tiny silver iodide particles shot into the air from 125 generators.
It’s called “cloud seeding,” and the climate-altering particle shooters will be in place by June. For vineyard owners in one of the most coveted wine regions of France, this sort of man-made climate change is the best solution to that other, more damaging sort of climate change.
And damaging climate is no small matter. Hailstorms can devastate vines. That means more damaged pinot noir vines, more damaged chardonnay vines, and less wine for us all.
“Since 2001, it’s been terrible,” Thiébault Huber, president of Burgundy’s regional association for the study and fight against atmospheric issues and the Volnay wine union told the Telegraph. “When it hails, sometimes 90 or even 100 per cent of the grape harvest is lost. It’s more and more frequent. In 2012, we lost a huge amount to hail in the Côte de Beaune and Côte Chalonnaise. Last year, the Mâconnais was hit, as was Chablis two or three times, and we had 11 alerts elsewhere.”
Burgundy isn’t putting all their faith in mad scientists and an untested technology. The first generators covering some 15,000 acres were installed in 2014. The new installations will cover around 42,000 acres — including some of the world’s favorite regions like Côte d’Or, Beaujolais, and Chablis.
Hell, if someone can make a cloud rain tequila in a German museum, they should be able to stop hail, right? The cloud generators will be put 50 kilometers (30 miles) away from the vineyards, as well as every 10 kilometers (six miles) in the vineyards. They will superheat particles and shoot them more than a half mile into the air. Those particles form a cloud filled with silver iodide particles every time the risk of hail reaches 40 percent.
Oh yeah. The particles are safe for natural and biodynamic vineyards, too. That’s something we can all drink Burgundy wine too.