The Perfect Storm

2013, the year of cursed wine?

We all saw it, the sky turned black, it went from 4 o’clock in the afternoon to twilight within the space of two minutes, and then the wind fell. It was as if the world was holding its breath. Then boom! The skies opened, and the world turned white. Standing in the glass room of the International School, surrounded by screaming children I couldn’t believe the intensity of the storm. Children screamed as hailstones the size of golf balls bounced off the windows and piled up against the side of the building in drifts up to the kid’s knees.

Walking home later that night I was shocked at the devastation I saw, tress snapped in half and closed roads. Even though it was more then 20 degrees, hailstones still littered the grass and there was so much traffic going along Route de Ferney that I was passing the cars on foot, and the buses were WP_000281wading through about a meter of water by WHO to get to the other end of the road.

I talked to a few people around Geneva to get their experiences, one woman I spoke to said that she “had no more vegetable garden, everything has been destroyed, it looks like it has been eaten by a swarm of locusts” another described to me how “ It took me hours to get home, I was driving when the storm hit and was forced to stop my car, now I have huge dents in the roof and bonnet due to the hail”.

By now all of the damage has been cleared, although there are still a few trees lying in parts of Geneva. What are the more long raging implications of the storm?

The worst hit areas were the cantons of Geneva and Neuchatel with 39 people being hospitalised by the storm. The wine making, grape-growing region between Geneva and Lausanne from the lake to the Jura was also devastated with an estimated 5-7% of grapes being lost and damaged by the wind and hail. Vineyards around the Nyon area were also heavily affected, with destruction of crops ranging from 30-100% depending on the location of the vineyard; some of the worst hit areas are those in Cortaillod, Boudry and Auvernier.

Swiss insurance companies are estimating that so far they have received over 200 million francs worth of claims and an estimated 2 years worth of harvest as shoots for next years grapes were also badly 27602damaged, and what is more the numbers are still rising as the damage is catalogued.

As a result of this, experts predict not only a rise in prices of Swiss wines but also shortages of certain specific varieties such as Pinot Gris and Chateau de Coinsin. One proposed solution to this was the possibility of vintners being allowed to buy grapes from their fellow wine makes, who were less badly affected by the storm, however this proposal was rejected as it was thought that in the long term, the sharing of grapes would have had a negative effect on the quality of Swiss wines. The State has declined the urge from wine makers of the canton to step in with aid for those most badly hit, saying that it was up to the individual to make sure that they had proper coverage.

Is there any experience from the storm that you would like to share? Let us know about it!

About the Author
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Story of the Week/News from the UN/Photography I grew up in Oxford, England. I have been living in Geneva for about two years and I am always discovering new and exciting things. I studied History at the University of Kent and since then have been specializing in writing and photography. I will be featuring some of my photos on the Biskotti website! I will be writing the feature piece about Geneva as well as a section on News from the United Nations to keep you up to date with international goings on!