The next six weeks will be ‘crucial’ to the quality and quantity of this year’s Champagne harvest, after drought conditions left vines short of water.

Champagne grape growers will be allowed to pick 10,000kg of grapes per hectare of vines in this year’s wine harvest, with another 500kg/ha to be released from reserve stocks – the same figure as in 2014. The Champagne 2015 harvest is likely to start on or around 10 September.

Champagne’s governing body, the Comité Champagne, said the vineyards had enjoyed a ‘trouble-free’ start to their growing cycle this year. But it added, ‘The drought that has set in since late May has left the vines short of water and this, in addition to the heatwaves in June and July, has slowed vine growth.

‘Now, more than ever, weather conditions over the coming weeks will be crucial for the grape harvest’s volume and quality.’

Jean-Marie Barillère, president of the Union des Maisons de Champagne, said vineyards across Champagne were in a good state, with ‘not a lot of pressure’ from mildew.

‘In terms of number of bunches per vine, it is a low one, particularly for the Pinot Meunier,’ he added.

Barillère said the decision on maximum permitted yields was based on likely future demand and current stock levels, with Champagne houses keen not to allow stock levels to rise further.

Some 307m bottles of Champagne were shipped in 2014, up 0.7% on the previous year, but below early forecasts. Comité Champagne said sales for the first half of 2015 had been ‘stable’ compared with the same period last year.