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Water is an increasingly scarce resource. Every effort must be made to preserve it and control its consumption.
The water footprint takes into account the impact of water use and effluent treatment throughout the Champagne-making process.
Preservation of water resources is a priority concern
Rainfall has tended to be fairly high in the Champagne region. But climate change is disrupting the established balance and the preservation of water resources is becoming a priority concern.
Much like any other wine, Champagne requires significant amounts of water during its production process, not least for cleaning the tanks and presses. It is therefore essential to ensure that this water is recovered and treated, both in the vineyard and in the cellar.
Specific measures to preserve water resources
Champagne is seeking to limit its environmental impact as far as possible. In particular, it is committed to reducing its water consumption and to treating wastewater. Investments in wine effluent treatment systems began in the mid-1990s and picked up pace in the 2000s. Today, wine effluents are treated before being returned to the natural environment or reused by spreading on agricultural land.
Other measures also underpin this commitment:
Agronomic care, organic methods or biocontrol and restored natural balances can significantly reduce the use of protection products. For example, mating disruption provides protection from pests, such as the grape berry moth, without the use of insecticides, while preserving beneficial insects. In 1999, 15% of the area under vine was already protected by mating disruption. Champagne has become the leading region for the development of this technique: by 2010, there were 8,000 hectares of protected areas and this momentum has since continued to reach 17,000 hectares today:
Increase in areas protected by mating disruption (hectares)
The development of temporary or permanent crop cover and mechanical weeding are leading to the phasing out of chemical weeding, which appeared in the 1960s;
Champagne winegrowers are investing heavily in the management of groundwater resources on slopes to facilitate the infiltration or evacuation of rainwater and, thus, fight against erosion;
An in-depth analysis is carried out in the wine-producing establishments at regular intervals, to reduce water consumption.
Controlling the water footprint is a long-term task: the results are encouraging, but there are still many challenges ahead.