Update from the Vine - September
July is a steady month in the champagne vineyards but one which is critical for the harvest in September; it is the month where the grapes which were newly formed after fertilisation during June’s flowering develop on the vines.
Temperature averages 24.7c during the month but nonetheless the annual average is still only 10c! As grapes cannot ripen below an average of 9c, it is easy to see why warm (but not scorching!) summer months of July and August are essential for a good harvest – and why Champagne is the most northerly wine producing region in Europe. There is, of course, debate about this given the arguments over climate change – but more of that anon…
As France traditionally holidays for the majority of August, much of the preparation for the harvest (typically second or third week of September – 100 days after the flowering) is carried out by producers all over the region in anticipation of that critical moment.
The photograph shows clearly how vines are grown on relatively small parcels of land and that only the best bits are suitable for grape production – hence the patch of wheat sandwiched between vineyards being harvested by the yellow combine!