Late frost protection in Champagne

Probably one of the most counterintuitive impacts of climate change on vine is the increased frequency of late frost. Champagne, due to its septentrional position is historically and regularly affected by this meteorological hazard. Champagne has therefore developed a strong experience in frost protection with first experiments dating from the end of 19th century. Frost protection can be divided in two parts: passive and active. Passive protection includes all the methods that do not seek to modify the vine’s environment or resistance at the time of frost. The most iconic passive protection in Champagne is the establishment of the individual reserve. This reserve allows to stock a certain quantity of clear wine during a surplus year to compensate a meteorological hazard like frost during the following years. Other common passive methods are the control of planting area (walls, bushes, topography), the choice of grape variety, late pruning, or the impact of grass cover and tillage. Active frost protection is also divided in two parts. Most of the existing techniques tend to modify vine’s environment. Most of the time they provide warmth (candles, heaters, windmills, heating cables…), or stabilise bud’s temperature above a lethal threshold (water sprinkling). The other way to actively fight is to enhance the resistance of buds to frost (elicitors). The Comité Champagne evaluates frost protection methods following three main axes: the efficiency, the profitability, and the environmental impact through a lifecycle assessment. This study will present the results on both passive and active protection following these three axes.

Authors: Basile Pauthier, Sébastien Debuisson and Arnaud Descôtes 

Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne, Epernay, France 

Email: basile.pauthier@civc.fr

Keywords: late frost, climate change, active protection, passive protection, Champagne

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