All the while, extreme weather—rainfalls, frost, hail, and heat—reduced champagne’s harvest by 20% in 2021, reminding us that the effects of climate change in 2022 will be unpredictable at best.
Nonetheless, unexpected developments and extreme weather events were managed with thoughtfulness, resilience, and higher speed thanks to a burgeoning number of sustainability certified champagne estates (VDC and HVEIII) , and to the industry’s exemplified historical solutions to such events. Sustainability using regenerative agriculture farming practices is key. The rising prices of fossil fuels are also raising the prices for synthetic agricultural inputs, such as fertilisers. Farming is a labour-intensive, risky profession with insecure and slim margins. With a primary input going up in price, the risk increases.
Environmental scientist Ivo Degn, Co-Founder of ClimateWorks Foundation, has stated: “while we haven’t yet properly assessed a potential global yield of regenerative agriculture [and viticulture], and how restoration of degraded ecosystems and consistent high-quality harvests would influence yields, we know one thing for sure: The way we’re farming now has absolutely no chance of feeding the world into the future. The need for costly fossil-based inputs, the degradation of ecosystems, abuse of water sources [and natural resources] is making sure of that. Technology, such as precision agriculture, can help maintain that system somewhat longer, but ultimately, we have to question the principal paradigms on which we build our system on, i.e. using up vs. regenerating resources. The strain on farmers is too big. We’re now asking the farmers to go even further into risk, to continue this system, when its end is clear.”
Our support to help farmers in their transition to regenerative farming practices is key to alleviate the strain on agriculture and viticulture.
Looking at a single year of the champagne industry doesn’t define the industry as successful or unsuccessful. We must consider long-term trends to get a true accounting of the industry’s health. In doing so, according to the Lombard Odier’s Outlook 2022, “We forecast 4.6% 2022 growth in the US, 4.5% in the Euro area and 5.0% in China. Overall consumption demand continues to be strong.” For 2022, though, we do expect a champagne shortage, already confirmed by two of our suppliers.
The combination of a possibly strong demand facing lower stock from 2019-20, higher price of raw materials, and increased labor-intensive sustainable vineyard growing practices, are likely to drive higher prices per bottle in the future. On the other hand, through their continued work on healthy soils, champagne vintners we work with also gradually increase their estate’s carbon-capture potential for the future. All this work should increase the stability to the benefit of economic health, and also inheritance, family values, and the next generations.
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