This year’s champagne harvest will begin several weeks earlier than normal with yields lower than 2006, says the winemakers’ union in the region.

According to the Syndicat Général des Vignerons de la Champagne (SGV), the harvest will start around 20 August instead of mid-September.

With a similar weather pattern to that in Burgundy, which is also expecting an unusually early harvest, an early spring combined with high April temperatures in the region speeded up flowering.

The SGV, which represents the majority of growers in Champagne, also predicted that average yields for 2007 would be down on last year’s figures by around 3,000kg per hectare.

SGV president Patrick Le Brun told decanter.com the reduced yields are due to ‘a patch of cold, damp weather in May, just when flowers in certain areas were turning into berries’.

Last year the average yields were around 18,000kg per hectare. This year the SGV predicts the figure will drop to 15,000kg per hectare, just under the five-year average of 16,500kg.

However, Le Brun said that despite the lower quantities, the grapes were showing good quality.

The news comes during a difficult summer for other producers through much of France, including those in Bordeaux, where many growers have spent the summer fighting recurrent mildew attacks brought on by the warm but wet summer weather.

Written by Sophie Kevany