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November 01, 2007

French Champagne House Spotted Checking Out English Vineyards

Posted in: Wine Strategy

I’m fascinated by what I am terming the “Champagne scramble” as the various Champagne producers confront a world in which the
growing need for Champagne is compromised by both the limits of the region and the specter of global warming. The latest move in the battle comes from Champagne house Louis Roederer , the maker of Cristal one of the most recognizable brands, they are now looking at vineyards in Kent and Sussex. This could lead to the company producing English sparkling wine.

Over the last few years southern England has begun to get attention for sparkling wine production. The chalky soil is similar to that in the Champagne region and global warming has created a more hospitable growing climate. For the Champagne houses the lure of English land is also partly the price.

Decanter reports that a 50 acre block for planting vines might cost between £8,000-£10,000 per acre in England while an acre of vineyard in
Champagne would cost around £300,000. That’s quite a lot to pay for a name. The hard part is convincing the world just how good English sparkling wine is. Having a major Champagne house invest in the region would certainly go a long way toward doing that.

In the short run however there is nothing to worry about in the region, this year’s harvest in Champagne is set to achieve recordbreaking production.

By Deidre Woollard.

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