2021 has been a hopeful year for all of us. Over in Champagne , however, they were faced with more challenges than we all did in 2020. My iPhone weather app always contains the weather forecast for Reims, and as I meticulously followed it every day this year, I saw the ups and downs of my dear friends. Champagne was faced with early spring frost followed by torrential rain fall. The images of vineyards posted on Instagram by many Champagne growers were hauntingly heart-breaking.
Vines in need of sun
In early April, all regions of Champagne were hit by two consecutive nights of bitter frost. That frost took away 20%-80% (depending on location) of the early buds. Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir were less affected while Chardonnay took the biggest hit. Growers found various ways to combat this unfortunate event. During those nights there were pictures of vineyards in Champagne romantically lit up with candlelight to keep their vines warm. Although it was a beautiful image, you can just image the suspense and the sleepless nights the growers had to endure.
Traces of cold on the vine
After the spring frost came early summer rain. It was the wettest recorded summer in a long time. The excess rain created mildew, which is a fungus that attacks the grapes and their leaves. For some vineyards, it was another 30% loss of their crop. The early rainfall also made it harder for the growers to work as the earth was too wet for them to even enter the rows to work the soil and leaves.
Meunier vines battle through
Harvest this year is due to happen in the second week of September ( this also depends on location and grape variety - Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier will start earlier than Chardonnay). This vintage is predicted to be the smallest in the last 50 years.
When it rains, it pours!
Despite the challenges so far, this year we will hopefully see no impact on the supplies to the Champagne market. Most producers will be relying on their reserves to compensate for any shortfalls. The Comité Champagne has also officially declared the maximum yield will be 10,000kg per hectare, which is a significant increase from 2020.
Grapes ready to go
Many of our grower Champagne producers are very proud of their work in the vineyards and are also socially tech savvy on Instagram. It’s great fun to watch and follow their journey. Here are some grower Champagne producers which are great to follow coming up to harvest time: