Poor spring weather in France means the year’s champagne crop will take a hammering, but champagne producers are mixing vintages to keep corks popping. Johnny Cotton reports.
Champagne crops saved by old-school workers
It’s the annual harvest here in France where grapes are being picked to be turned into champagne and sent to parties all over the world.
But this year is looking like it is going to be particularly tough for growers thanks to some rather extraordinary weather.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS REPORTER, JOHNNY COTTON SAYING:
“As you can see I am sitting here amongst the vines in a vineyard belonging to Nicolas Maillart, a local man, and behind me there are groups of Portugese and Spanish pickers, scurrying up and down the vines with secateurs trying to harvest the Pinot Noir grapes as fast as possible.”
(SOUNDBITE) (English) GRAPE PICKER, JELENA PONGRAC, SAYING:
“I’m cutting grapes for rich people in Champagne. And earning some money and I’m staying in Croatia.”
“This year is looking particularly tough for growers thanks to hail and frost followed by a particularly wet Spring and a particularly dry Summer that has wreaked havoc on their plans. “
(SOUNDBITE) (French) CHAMPAGNE PRODUCER, NICOLAS MAILLART, SAYING:
“Last year was an exceptional year in that no rain fell at all between May 15 and August 15 and that was exceptional too. So I feel like we’re entering a time where you have extreme climate patterns, but we don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Everyone here in Champagne says they are used to dealing with meteorological conditions which vary widely from one year to another, with differences in temperature, differences in rain, but what they do say is that climate change is potentially having an effect on the predictability of the year. It becomes more changeable and becomes more difficult to plan for.