Mildew attack devastates French Champagne harvest

Mildew attack devastates French Champagne harvest
Vineyards in Champagne. Illustration photo: Francois Nascimbeni/AFP
Wine growers in France's Champagne region are reporting a 'catastrophic' harvest after mildew attacked the grapes.

As the harvest begins of grapes to make France’s famous sparkling wine, growers say they will manage to pick just a fraction of their usual harvests.

Heavy rains and a lack of sunshine over the summer months have led to an attack of mildew on the vines, leaving grapes shrivelled and unusable.

“The mildew started by drying out the leaves, then by attacking the grapes,” Alex Fringhian, general manager of Champagne Château de Boursault, told le Parisien

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“In the middle of the vineyards, completely wilted bunches are still visible. All the plots have been impacted.

“Of course, there is desolation, it is the work of the whole year that is affected.”

In a good year he would expect to harvest around 10,000kg of grapes per hectare, a bad year would be 8,500 to 9,000kg. This year he has managed to salvage just 4,000kg.

His neighbour Bertrand, production manager of Telmont Champagne has managed to pick 5,000kg per hectare, around half his normal harvest, while Champagne growers in the worst-affected Dormans areas have struggled to reach 2,000kg.

Champagne producers say they can use their reserves to create enough sparkling wine from the 2021 harvest, but this will leave them with virtually nothing in reserve for next year.

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