Winegrowers in the hilly region of Champagne in eastern France are starting to reap and press their sun-kissed grapes with joy, as this year’s harvest season is expected to be one the best in the last 10 years.
The harvest began early this year, in late August for most vineyards, after a rainy winter and a summer heatwave, which also bolstered the quality of the grapes used to produce the traditional bubbly beverage.
Champagne wines are expected to see a sharp rise in production in 2018, up 56 percent from last year to 3.5 million hectoliters (92.5 million gallons), after several years of disappointing grape yield due to poor weather.
“The last few years have been tough,” Champagne Winegrowers’ Union president Maxime Toubart said. “This year is expected to be exceptionally good, so we are very happy.”
In 2018, some 15,000 Champagne winegrowers are set to harvest between 28,660 and 35,274 pounds of grapes per hectare (2.5 acres), Toubart said.
Each year, 310 million bottles of French Champagne wine, a designation strictly regulated in the country, are sold worldwide, while more than a billion are stored in cellars, waiting to have their corks popped.