France cuts wine production forecast after champagne harvest drop

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France’s farm ministry on Tuesday reduced its forecast of 2020 wine production to below the average of recent years as it factored in smaller harvest volumes in the Champagne region.

Champagne producers in August agreed to collect a smaller volume of grapes this year to help counter the impact of the coronavirus crisis that has slashed sales of the sparkling wine.

That led the farm ministry to cut its projection for national wine output this year to 44.1 million hectolitres from 45 million estimated last month, it said in a report.

The revised forecast was 4% above last year’s weather-hit production but 1% below the average of the past five years, it said.

A hectolitre is the equivalent of 100 litres, or around 133 standard wine bottles.

Total wine output in the Champagne region was expected to fall 20% from 2019 to 1.9 million hectolitres, or 23% below the five-year average, the ministry said.

Wine grape harvesting was mostly finished by the end of September after an early start, including record early harvests in northeastern zones like Champagne and Alsace, it said.

Forecast output in the southwestern regions of Bordeaux and Charentes were revised down slightly due to drought in September, with overall production in Bordeaux now seen slightly below last year’s, the ministry added.

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