The winegrowers and houses of Champagne have agreed a yield of 8000 kilos per hectare for the 2020 harvest, as the region looks to prevent a glut of wine which could drive down price.
Champagne has been hit hard by COVID-19 and global lockdowns and restrictions which have seen weddings and parties all over the world cancelled, and Champagne sales drop sharply.
Champagne grower, Vincent Leglantier, told Reuters: “We make the wine of happiness, and when people are sad, like during the lockdown, sales of champagne tend to collapse.”
In a statement about this year’s harvest, Comité Interprofessionnel Du Vin En Champagne, the committee which controls production, distribution and promotion of Champagne, said: “Considering the uncertainties weighing on the entire sector, the people of Champagne have taken an adaptive approach to the bottling and payments for this harvest, depending on the performance that will be observed throughout the markets in 2020.
“This system, which illustrates the ingenuity and resilience of the Champagne appellation’s inter-professional organisation will allow both vendors of grapes to maintain an acceptable income and the Champagne industry to meet the demands of their customers and preserve their cash flow.”
The Comité added: “Despite the lack of an appropriate response from the European and national public authorities to the challenges of the crisis in Champagne, it is through these measures that the sector will retain its collective priorities: promotion of the appellation of Champagne and continuation of its environmental commitment.”
The Comité also agreed that this year’s harvest would commence on 17 August, which is two years ahead of the 10-year average and the earliest harvest start date since records began. Despite the lower quantity for this year’s harvest, early indications are that it promises to be of good quality.
One of the rules for the Champagne harvest is that the grapes are picked by hand, which usually involves around 100,000 seasonal workers. The Comité said it was working with growers and houses to manage the challenge of this year’s harvest under conditions adapted to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.