How is Champagne adapting to climate change?

14th September, 2020 by Giles Fallowfield

Champagne is considering sweeping changes to its viticultural model in an attempt to adapt to climate change. Giles Fallowfield considers the proposals, from expanding vine spacing to planting new grape varieties.

The Champagne economy has faced some major challenges since the dawn of the new Millennium. For most of the noughties, keeping up with increasing worldwide demand looked like being the most difficult to address. Revising the appellation to do this, by increasing the area under vine, was never going to be a simple task. But the financial crisis of 2008 and the steep initial drop in demand, followed by a levelling off at around the 300m bottle mark, has made this ‘revision’ – the Champenois don’t like anyone calling it an expansion of the vineyard – considerably less urgent. It may never happen now.

Coronavirus will surely bring consumption down further in the short term, even though we have never needed a glass of cheering fizz more, but the greatest challenge that Champagne has to address is how to adapt to, and in the longer term deal with, climate change. This threatens its very existence, not its short-term consumption.

Even if it does….

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