RIP good times

By Mike Pomranz
June 01, 2018
Miryana Slivenska / EyeEm/Getty Images

Downing 8 million bottles of champagne sounds like the party of a lifetime. But in Champagne, France, people weren’t celebrating, and these millions of bottles worth of bubbly weren’t downed by revelers, but by a massive hailstorm that struck vineyards unexpectedly.

This week, the French wine grape growing region famous for its sparkling vino was hit with hailstorms so destructive that they reportedly damaged about 4,500 acres worth of vineyards. Startlingly, over half that, about 2,500 acres, was “100 percent destroyed,” according to the industry’s Champagne Committee. In all, the committee suggests that the destruction accounted for about 3 percent of the entire champagne-growing area. Or to put that in a way that will really hit home with consumers, approximately 8 million bottles of champagne will never land on store shelves – their lives snuffed out while they were still just delicate flowers.

“Storm and hail are not unusual phenomena in Champagne, but what is rare is to see them at this very early stage and with this level of violence,” Champagne Committee communications director Thibaut Le Mailloux told the Telegraph. “It happened at a very bad time, as the vines are only starting to flower this week. Of course, flowers are more fragile than fruit or buds.”

As a silver lining for consumers, since these “bottles” are only theoretical—it’s not like these hailstones described as “the size of pigeons’ eggs” were bouncing around inside of a Moet warehouse—the damage shouldn’t result in any sort of champagne shortage. And since bubbly is typically released as “non-vintage,” meaning the wine is a blend from different years, supplies aren’t dependent on any one season. But just because consumers will be spared, doesn’t mean producers won’t take a hit: It’s estimated that the lost revenue is probably somewhere in the neighborhood of at least $145 million.

Meanwhile, pretty soon, we all may have a good reason to give up champagne all together… because there won’t be much left to toast to. According to Le Mailloux, many champagne growers believe that this horrible May weather is just one more indication of the new normal from increased climate change. “Climate change isn’t about regular temperature rise but more chaotic climate because it is so violent and at such an unusual period,” Le Mailloux was quoted as saying.

Sounds like it’s time to switch to hard alcohol. RIP Champagne. RIP human race.