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Champagne region holds off setting 2020 yields amid grower vs house battle

The region faces Coronavirus-sparked crisis as sales fall flat during lockdown...

There is unrest across the Champagne region as the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) has failed to reach agreement on the yield limits for the 2020 harvest.

Usually by now the region would have set its yield limits for the forthcoming harvest but this year – amid the huge impact of the COVID-19 pandemic – the growers and the houses could not agree on a figure at a recent meeting.

The négociant and growers’ unions are at loggerheads as the growers want the yield limit to remain similar to previous years at around 10,000 kg/ha, while the négociants – the houses and brands within the region – want the yield for 2020 to drop by a third.

The UMC union, which promotes the interests of the major houses, has proposed a reduction in yields to between 6,000-7,000 kg/ha as it argues that this will help account for the houses’ fall in orders in April and May 2020, as a direct result of coronavirus.

Growers, meanwhile, fear that such a reduction wouldn’t allow them to cover their costs, let alone make a profit. French vineyard owner Bernard Beaulieu told The Times: ‘This absence of an agreement one month before harvest time has never happened since the Second World War.’ 

The houses are concerned that this reduction in sales twinned with yields in line with previous years will result in further oversupply and a depreciation in price. Many houses are estimated to already have four years’ supply in their cellars.

The CICV will not reconvene its talks until 18th August by which time the 2020 harvest will be worryingly close as picking is expected to begin on or around 20th August.

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