When the current growing season began in Champagne, there was much talk about severe weather reducing yield. Then, 2020 got going… Ultimately, it was not the elements, but the virus that sparked Champagne producers to announce that a nearly 25% reduction in yield for 2020.
The Comité Champagne—sort of like OPEC for the famed bubbly—announced that yield will be capped at 8,000kg of grapes per hectare. That figure equates to about 230 million bottles. (For perspective, yield was capped at 10,200kg/ha in 2019 and 10,800kg/ha in 2018.
The reduction was attributed to an expected drop in sales—the logical result of bar and restaurant closures worldwide. Of course, champagne’s role as the drink of celebration is also diminished during a time when there is not much to celebrate.
“Champagne, a wine of joie de vivre, conviviality and celebration, is particularly affected by the global economic crisis linked to Covid-19 and is suffering a historic drop in its shipments,” explained a statement from the Comité Champagne.
The move came after a protracted debate. Large houses pushed for the limitations which some advocate for an even lower number. However, many small vineyards depend on grape sales to the larger houses for revenue. These producers were already vocal about the need for added assistance from the French government and the diminished market for their grapes will likely exacerbate their tenuous position.