The Champagne region of France has announced the start dates for the 2019 harvest, with villages commencing harvest gradually beginning this week and into next week. The start dates vary by each village and grape varietal, ensuring that every plot is picked at the optimal ripeness. Every year, all the grapes are handpicked—part of the Champagne appellation’s strict regulations and one of the key steps to producing the unique, high-quality sparkling wine that comes only from Champagne, France.
Only grapes from specific, delineated plots in the appellation can be used to produce Champagne. Located 90 miles northeast of Paris, the region covers fewer than 80,000 acres. From growing grapes to blending wines, the winemaking process is a carefully orchestrated system of adjustments that all adds up to make the wines of Champagne. The 2019 growing season was punctuated by climactic shocks, including record-breaking temperatures over the summer, underscoring the need for Champagne to develop innovative solutions to adapt to a changing climate. The entire region — from growers to houses to suppliers — understands the importance of working together to respond to the changes taking place in the world while maintaining its commitment to quality.
“Climate change is a reality that Champagne growers and houses increasingly must take into account,” said Jennifer Hall, director of the Champagne Bureau, USA. “As such, the region is committed to sustainable development and seeks to do its part to reduce its environmental impact and protect the unique terroir of Champagne.”
In 2003, Champagne was the first-ever wine region to commission a carbon footprint audit, leading to a multifaceted campaign focused on reducing Champagne’s carbon footprint by 25 percent by 2020 and 75 percent by 2050. Over the past 15 years, Champagne has reduced the carbon footprint per bottle by 20 percent and reduced use of phytosanitary products and nitrogen fertilizers by 50 percent. In addition, 90 percent of industrial waste and 100 percent of wine-production effluents and byproducts in the region are treated and recycled.
In 2015 the Comité Champagne launched an environmental certification for wine growers to demonstrate their environmental stewardship and step up their long-held commitment to protecting Champagne. Since then, more than 20 percent of the Champagne vineyard has received environmental certification, of which 15 percent is certified “Sustainable Viticulture in Champagne.”
For a full list of harvest start dates by village and grape varietal, click here.