Hold The Corks

For the champagne industry, oversupply and slumping sales put troubles in the bubbles

GRAPE PICKERS SLOGGING THROUGH the muddy fields of Champagne's rain-moistened vineyards this harvesttime have had an unusual mission: for the first time in memory they have been told to pick fewer grapes. The decision was made by growers who, until recently, were happy to bottle anything that could conceivably qualify as champagne and sell it to an apparently insatiable public at steadily rising prices. This season, instead of aiming for the usual yield of 12,000 kilos of grapes per hectare, the pickers have been given a target of around 8,000 kilos. "It hurts the heart of a vineyard owner not to...

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