French wine harvests ahead of the game

Despite dire warnings during the very dry summer that the French wine harvest would be one of the worst on record, news from the vineyards is rather positive. Indeed,  a report by says that the 2018 harvest promises to be a vintage year for French wine.

The earliest harvest in 15 years is already in full swing in the Champagne region – which has benefited most from the hot weather – with the first grapes picked in equally northerly Alsace two weeks ahead of schedule. With the quality of the grapes said to be high, a truly vintage year to match 2009 could be in the offing.

Only Corsica, Languedoc-Roussillon and the Riviera coast have reported poor grapes compared to the last five years.

Mildew could have been a problem during the wet spring, but the long, dry and hot summer has helped battle it, growers say.

Wine glasses
Closeup of four glasses with wine being clinked together during a toast at a celebration

The French government agency FranceAgriMer said that mildew and violent spring storms had also hit the harvest along “the Atlantic coast and particularly along the Mediterranean”.

“Vines love the sun,” said Bernard Farges, head of the union of winemakers in the prestigious Bordeaux region, where mildew took a toll on the Merlot grapes used in its famous clarets. However, production is still likely to be much higher than the disastrously small crop of 2017.