The Champagne region in France is globally-renowned. The area has been working on environmental and sustainability practices now for nearly two decades. The champagne industry is actually on track to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in a quarter by the year 2020. On top of that, plans are already under way to deliver a 75% cut by 2050.
Comité Champagne Tackling Climate Change
For the winemakers, sustainability is a matter of necessity. The smallest changes in soil or sun can threaten to ruin a year’s harvest. The future of such a profitable industry depends on efficiently adapting to a changing climate.
Established in 1941, the Comité Champagne trade body represents all champagne growers and producers. Winegrowers and champagne houses have built their understanding of climate change and developed ambitious measures for tackling it.
According to the communications director, Thibaut Le Mailloux “Climate skeptics are scarce in the region, because 15 years ago we didn’t have grapes ripe enough to produce very aromatic champagne, and nowadays sometimes we are able to peak at 11.5 degrees of potential alcohol.”
Environmental Effects are Evident in the Champagne Region
There have already been effects of climate change on the Champagne’s 109,000 acres of vineyards. The region’s harvest date has now been moved to two weeks earlier in the year than it was 20 years ago. That means the vines bud earlier in the year, leaving the grapes more vulnerable which can kill off the fruit.
Also weather changes are having a direct impact on the grapes, which ripen quicker in warm temperatures. Although early ripening has in some ways made life a little easier for growers, the challenge is to try to maintain levels that are traditional to champagne as the climate and environment changes.
“The key objective is to keep champagne as it is in the long run, despite climate change.” said Le Mailloux. Although he takes Champagne’s heritage very seriously, to him, the environment is even more important:
“If we go beyond a 2.5C temperature increase, we are less afraid of our champagne production than we are about mankind and some countries disappearing underwater or things like that. That is more serious than wine.”