MIAMI (CBSMiami) – From graduations to weddings, the impact of COVID-19 has led to a stream of canceled events, and that’s given the champagne industry a generous pour of bad luck.
With celebrations in short supply, sales of the sparkling beverage have fallen flat. The industry lost an unprecedented $2 billion in revenue over the past few months. As lockdowns went into place around the world, champagne producers were left with nearly 100 million bottles of unsold product.
But don’t expect their price tag to drop anytime soon. To stabilize the price and prevent future waste, an official champagne committee is expected to put a cap on next month’s harvest. Meaning vineyards in eastern France will have to regulate the amount of grapes they pick, and burn or dispose of any excess. One winemaker likens it to pouring champagne in the gutter.
”It’s a destruction of nature’s gift. It’s unacceptable,” says Anselme Selosse.
Vineyard owners who choose not to destroy their excess grapes, could be given the option to produce alcohol for hand sanitizer or sell to distilleries at a discount. Even with those options, the industry will likely see a loss of sales by a third this year.
”We are experiencing a crisis that we evaluate to be even worse than the Great Depression in terms of economy for champagne,” says Thibaut Le Mailloux from the Champagne Committee, a group that represents winemakers.
But there is still a glass half full approach.
”Champagne sometimes sounds a little bit optimistic, because we have this resilience, and we have three hundred years of a history of getting over the various crisis and finding solutions,” Le Mailloux says.
While the impact of COVID-19 will bubble over for years to come, he hopes the world can find a reason to raise a glass.