Champagne Drappier buys vineyard to offset losses from frost

Champagne Drappier has bought 6.5 hectares of vineyards in its home village of Urville in the Côte des Bar, following two consecutive years of diminished supply due to spring frosts.

Antoine, Hugo, Michel Drappier and their dog Locki, on a newly-installed stone marker for the Champagne brand’s recently-acquired vineyard parcel called Les Truchots, in Urville

The new land will give Drappier greater control over its grape supply, and means that the Champagne brand now owns more vineyards than it sources grapes from – it owns a total of 60ha, while it takes bunches from a further 50ha, both from contract growers and land leased by Drappier.

The additional 6.5ha, which were added to the Drappier estate in spring this year, will also help offset losses in grape supply due to frosts in 2016, and again in 2017.

According to Michel Drappier, who heads up the family-owned Champagne brand, a severe frost in late April last year almost wiped out the entire supply of grapes from certain sites in the Côte des Bar.

“We lost between 20% and 90% [of the grape supply] depending on the plot,” he told the drinks business earlier this year, adding that Drappier won’t be able to produce its prestige cuvée called Grande Sendrée from the 2016 vintage due to the adverse springtime weather conditions.

The producer was then hit again by freezing temperatures in late April this year, although the full extent of the losses have yet to be compiled.

The vineyards of Urville

Explaining the motives for the vineyard acquisition, Michel told db that the additional land was needed both to secure high quality grape supplies for the future, particularly the ‘estate-only’ 100% Pinot Noir Brut Nature, as well as to compensate for the frosts in 2016 and then again this year.

Finally, speaking further about the future, Michel commented that he was investing for the next generation, pointing out that his three children are now involved in the business.

His oldest son, Hugo Drappier, is now head of the estate, while his other son Antoine, is managing the viticulture, in particular the organic farming conversion across 15ha of Drappier vineyards.

Meanwhile, his daughter, Charline, has taken up the role of managing Drappier’s business development, marketing and communication.

Michel, who takes charge of the winemaking, also said that he still draws on his father’s experience – André Drappier is 90 years old – and, “he is not retired”, said Michel.

As reported by db in January this year, Drappier has reached a new sales record and become the latest Champagne house to adopt a unique bottle design.

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