Champagne is spread across 34,000 hectares of vineyards in the north of France. Within this area, 90% of the grapes that are used in the production of Champagne come from around 19,000 small grape growers. The reason there are so many small plots is due to the Napoleonic inheritance laws, which require land to be split equally among children upon the death of the parent. Today, land in Champagne is very valuable so is seldom sold. This means that many of the big producers, who produce millions of bottles a year, do not have enough land to sustain production so have to buy in grapes.
While many work very closely with the grape growers they buy from, there are so many that it is virtually impossible to ensure that what is coming out of the vineyards is top quality. The advantage that growers have is that they can control this quality as their vineyard area is usually very small, sometimes only a couple of hectares.
More and more grape growers are turning towards making their own Champagne, especially as the product continues to increase in price and status. Not all growers are making good wines, but those who do are really worth exploring. They may not have pretty boxes and employ big stars to advertise their products, but what they don’t spend on marketing goes into the wine.
Did you know?
- If you see 'RM' next to the lot number on the label it indicates that the producer is a grower
- The average size of a plot of land in Champagne is two hectares
- The average pressure in a bottle of Champagne is the same as the pressure in a double-decker bus tyre – so be careful how you open it!
Typical Character and Style of Growers' Champagnes