From Vine to wine
Planting is conducted in accordance with strict regulatory requirements designed to satisfy the dual demands of the vine and its growing environment.
The grubbing-up and replanting of vines (or the planting of new plots) must be notified to the authorities. Planting must take place before the end of May (or late July for plants started in pots), following a period when the soil is rested and prepared. Champagne AOC wines may only be produced from the fruit of third-leaf vines (two years after planting).
This produces an average planting density of roughly 8,000 plants per hectare, aiming to optimize fruit quality through high-density planting. The more the vines have to compete with their neighbours for water and nutrients, the smaller and better the crop load per vine. Another advantage of high planting density is that it favours the development of an optimal Leaf Area Index (LAI), so promoting photosynthesis.
New plantings are subject to strict EU regulations, in accordance with fixed annual quotas for all wine-producing member countries. New planting rights are then distributed among the different wine-growing regions by the French Minister for Agriculture. For some years now, the annual rights allocation for the Champagne region has not exceeded 1% of the total area under vine.