For the Champagne Industry, This Year’s Been Worse Than the Great Depression

Turns out no one wants a celebratory drink during a pandemic

Champagne
Champagne sales have fallen dramatically in 2020
Tristan Gassert / Unsplash
By Kirk Miller / August 1, 2020 6:00 am

Champagne sales have dropped an estimated $2 billion for the year, according to producers in France’s eastern Champagne region. As the AP notes, this is a “hammering unmatched in living memory, and worse than the Great Depression.”

The culprit, no surprise, is the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has severely limited celebratory events like weddings and parties. It’s estimated over one billion bottles are now waiting in Champagne cellars.

In response, the French winemaker association known as the Champagne Committee (CIVC) is expected to impose a severe cap on production so prices won’t dip further — this means a “record” quantities of grapes will be destroyed or sold to distilleries at steep discounts. As well, a new marketing campaign will highlight the wine as a natural, often organic drink from a historic French region, as opposed to something you pop open during major events.

Much like the issues facing craft spirits, smaller breweries and independent vineyards, it’s the smaller producers who are most at risk at this time, especially in an industry that’s heavily regulated. Some vineyard owners say they’ll go under if their allotted grape yield is limited.

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