Harvest 2022 in Champagne
Harvest time has its own set of conventions, timelines, and ingredients that must be honored, much like a priceless family recipe passed down through the generations.
The procedures are intricate and varied. The bunches are manually gathered in their entirety.
So, why is the harvest for Champagne done by hand?
With an emphasis on 2022, the Canard-Duchêne House provides information on the methods and customs of Champagne’s grape picking.
The grape's journey
A year’s worth of labour culminates in the harvest, which is an important step in the manufacturing of champagne.
Above all else, the annual climate, particularly during the flowering season and the month before the harvest, is the most important component for a successful harvest.
The weather needs to be moderate, without severe frosts, and with frequent rainfall in order to be favourable.
In order to have the best supply of sugar, a balance between sun and rain is important for producing wine of exceptional quality.
The grape ripening monitoring network is turned on the moment the summer grapes begin to turn colour. Finding the ideal ripening window for each grape type in each of the “cru” in the area is the goal. Several times, the bunches are selected and evaluated to obtain the optimal date for harvesting.
This is a specificity of the Champagne region where pressing techniques require whole bunches of grapes. The hand of man is essential to respect the AOC Champagne appellation, expression of a particular link between terroir and production.
A machine could not carry out this precise and delicate gesture.
In fusion with nature, the winegrower and his pickers only harvest the grapes according to meticulous and careful handling. The quality and quantity picked depend on it.
The grapes are then taken to the presses.
The white wines of Champagne come from two thirds of red grapes (Pinot Noir and Meunier) and one third of white (Chardonnay).
Then, delicately positioned fractional presses are used to stop grapes from releasing their pulp prior to wine pressing. Otherwise, there is a chance that the liquid will turn coloured (pink champagne).
It’s frequently better to use the initial juice that is extracted. The “cuvée” is made up of it. The subsequent pressings, referred to as “tailles,” are more forceful.
There are thousands of little hands working during this time: pickers, skidders, haulers, pressers, etc.
The 2022 harvest
The date of the harvest is defined each year by the Comité Interprofessionnel des Vins de Champagne (CIVC). It lasts about 3 to 4 weeks continuously, nature doesn’t wait!
For this year 2022, they officially started on August 18th in Aube and are in full swing until mid-September. This is only the 8th time in 20 years that the harvest has started in August!
The yield of the harvest in Champagne is regulated.
– Thus, the yield quotas have been fixed, they will be 12,000 kilos per hectare for 2022, a figure unheard of since 2007! In comparison to 2021, they were announced at 10,000 kilos, but the harvest had been complicated, with finally only 7,300 kilos. In spite of the losses due to frost and storms, the harvest is expected to be very large!
– There is also the individual reserve share, each Champagne grower must build up a reserve. It is fixed at 8,000 kilos this year.
– New device for this year: the deferred reserve! It can be released the following year if there is a shortage of grapes during a campaign. This makes it possible to stabilize supply and demand.
This year, the harvest looks very good, both in terms of quantity and quality! The dry weather has enabled us to avoid diseases, the sanitary situation of the vineyard is very healthy. And even if the lack of water due to this summer’s heat wave has sometimes slowed down the ripening of the grapes, the chalky soils of the Champagne region allow the humidity to be well preserved.
A harvest in 2022 corresponds to availability on your tables in 2025, so… To harvest the fruits of this delicious work, be patient!