Champagne areas to expand

Worldwide demand for champagne forces French growth expansion

The huge international demand for Champagne has forced French authorities to expand the area in which the grapes grow.

Annual sales for bubbly have grown to £7 billion over the last year, prompting officials to change the law defining where the Champagne growing boundaries lie.

The Brits are the biggest Champagne drinkers outside France, drinking 39 million bottles each year.

The Champagne-Ardenne region will be expanded from 33,500-hectare to include up to 40 villages by 13 March this year.

Currently there are 317 villages in the region which are surrounded by the right soil and weather conditions to produce grapes of high enough quality for Champagne.

There is a strong dividing line between the worth of vineyards, with Champagne-friendly soil worth 200,000 times more.

Giles Flutet of the AOC (‘appellation d’origine contrôlée’) said: ‘If your vines fall on the wrong side of the divide, they will be worth 5,000 euros a hectare. On the other side they will be worth 1 million euros (£764,100).

Once the new areas for Champagne growing are marked out, it will be 10 years before production can start.

Reading now