Gel dans les vignes

Champagne and its climate

A climate with both oceanic and continental influences

A dual climatic influence: a feature unique to the Champagne climate

The Champagne vineyards are bathed in a dual climate subject to both continental and oceanic influences. This phenomenon is unique to Champagne and not found in any other French wine-making region. 

What it means in practice is that there is a kind of conflict between two distinct climatic conditions: thanks to the oceanic influence, the vineyards are blessed with fairly mild temperatures. It is neither too cold in winter nor too hot in summer. The average annual temperature is 11°C. 

However, continental influences can lead to freezing temperatures in winter without warning. In places, temperatures below -10°C have been recorded, bringing frosts that can be devastating for the vineyards. The reverse can also happen in summer, with rising temperatures sometimes culminating in violent storms.

These climatic conditions are also beneficial for the vines, though, in more ways than one. The Champagne region gets plenty of sunshine in the summer, which is perfect for the grape clusters to develop. There is a steady and moderate amount of rainfall through the year: an almost ideal water supply for the Champagne grapes.

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Climat en Champagne
Gel

Champagne culture

A wine region where the vines are planted at the limits of their cold tolerance

Reims lies at a latitude of 49°5 north, and Épernay at 49°: now, in the northern hemisphere, it is generally considered difficult to obtain quality grapes at the 50th parallel in the north and 30th in the south. So the Champagne vineyards sit right on the borderline, which explains why the weather is sometimes very challenging!

But how does all this benefit Champagne wine?

Why such interest in the weather in Champagne? Well, it’s because the weather has a genuine impact on the vines and the grapes, and therefore… on Champagne! 

Champagne’s climate is just right for making sparkling wines. The finest vintages are crafted from grapes which have achieved a subtle balance between acidity and sugar levels. Sunlight and rainfall are pivotal where these two parameters are concerned. 

This balance is easily attained in Champagne where levels of sunshine and rainfall are just right. This is helped by the fact that the vines are planted onsloping hillsides so as to soak up as much sunlight as possible. In this way, the grapes retain their natural acidity even when fully ripe.

But the weather can change drastically from one year to the next unfortunately, and this subjects the vineyards to all manner of hazards. Climate change has increased the intensity and frequency of this extreme weather. Champagne is accustomed to fickle weather and has already spent a century developing varioustools to tackle climate change.

Raisins noirs

Champagne culture

An ideal climate for Champagne… But one which can sometimes make life difficult for growers!

Working conditions in the vines can be hard-going in some weathers and growers must adapt constantly. Over the centuries, they have developed a philosophy and techniques for best protecting the clusters to keep them healthy and thus ensure the quality of the grapes. This is a vineyard-wide strategy, rooted in the selection of the best grape varieties and the best plants.

Champagne and its people

Champagne and its seasons

The vine growth cycle follows the seasons

Paysage de Champagne en hiver
Paysage de Champagne en hiver
Paysage de Champagne en hiver
Paysage de Champagne au printemps
Paysage de Champagne au printemps
Paysage de Champagne au printemps
Paysage de Champagne en été
Paysage de Champagne en été
Paysage de Champagne en été
Paysage de Champagne en automne
Paysage de Champagne en automne
Paysage de Champagne en automne
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Throughout the year, the Champagne landscape and its vines change in step with the seasons: bare in winter, they grow thick foliage in the spring which, come summer, protects the precious clusters of grapes. In the autumn, the Champagne hillsides adorn themselves in shimmering gold and orange shades as the vine leaves change colour.

WINTER - After the harvests, the days get colder and shorter. The vines gradually shed their leaves until they are complete bare. This gives growers the opportunity to maintain the vine plant itself, focusing on pruning it to prepare for the next growing cycle.

SPRING - Seasonal growth resumes as the days become warmer and sunnier. This is a key period for growers, for the future crop depends on the tasks carried out over the next few months. Unstinting care and attention are therefore called for with vineyard maintenance a daily requirement from this point onward. The vines break into bud and leaf, which will need carefully pinching back to make sure the vine can keep focusing on its fruit.

SUMMER - Vineyard maintenance must continue, with growers increasingly watching over the grapes that are beginning to appear. The weather now plays a decisive role in the quality of the crop.

AUTUMN – The grapes are now fully grown and at peak ripeness. It’s time for harvesting, the start date for which will depend on the amount of sunshine the vineyards received that year: it used to wait until September. But the effects of climate change are being felt in this respect too, and the picking dates are falling increasingly earlier. The leaves will then turn yellow and fall, ready for the vines to begin a new seasonal cycle. 

Champagne and its seasons

La taille de la vigne

Champagne culture

There are tasks to be done in every season! 

Vine husbandry is a prerequisite in the Champagne wine-making process. There are different stages throughout the year to prepare, look after and foster fruit production on the vine: pruning in winter, desuckering in spring (which is when non-fruit-bearing shoots are removed), pinching-back in summer... There are very specific tasks to be done in every season. 

How Champagne is made