“It’s Terrible”: After Frosts, Champagne Vineyards Hit by Fungus

July 28, 2021

PARIS — About 20% to 25% of the Champagne vineyard has been damaged by mildew fungus due to heavy rainfall earlier this month, adding to severe losses caused by frosts earlier in the season, Champagne industry lobby CIVC said on Tuesday.

In total, half of the harvest will be lost, CIVC Deputy-Chairman Maxime Toubart told Reuters, although there should be no impact on supply to the market thanks to reserves of previous output.

Torrential rain hit western Europe in mid-July, causing deadly flooding in Germany and Belgium and raising concern about quality and quantity damages to several farm products, including cereals.

“It’s terrible, we got too much rain just at a time when we needed hot and dry weather,” said Toubart, a producer himself.

Fungus attacks lead the grapes and the leaves to dry up. In some places the whole parcel has been ravaged, Toubart said.

“A loss of 20%-25% on 35,000 hectares is huge. The older generations say they have never seen anything like this,” Toubart said.

Severe frost over the winter had already damaged 30% of the production.

“But we are quite serene because we have a reserve, meaning that at the end there should be no impact on the number of bottles available,” Toubart said.

Champagne is most often a mixture of several vintages. Winegrowers can keep a reserve of past years’ output that can be used when there is a drop in output or extra demand that had not been anticipated.

“Of course we are disappointed by what is happening but the good news is that it will not impact the industry’s economy at all. Clients will find their bottles of champagne and there will be no spike in prices,” Toubart said.

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