The vignoble (vineyard) of cognac is ready for the harvest: the abv at 8,8%, grapes at 350 grams and 120 hectolitre per hectare – and the acidity seems to be more or less strong enough.

But tis time, at the end of september 2010, it’s a different harvest: A new decleration system, deseases and heat is about to have an impact on Cognac’s wine growing agriculture.

The 2010 vineyard harvest in Charente will probably be a good one, and for the first time, the farmeres declared (before the harvest) what they were actually planning to do with the grapes. Most of the region of course produces wine for Cognac, the famous french brandy.

Vineyard in Cognac
Vineyard in Cognac

The harvest is on! For example at the 400 hectares-Domaine Boinaud at Bouteville, or bigger farmers in the Grande Champagne area.

As mentioned above, 2010 changes the game in Charente vinification: A decleration system was put in place, that basically helps the cognac houses, the maisons de négoce. The system allows better and early planning for the cognac traders – the availability of eaux-de-vie or wine for cognac production can be estimated far better.

As the hectolitre of wine per hectare is limited, some farmers produce more and declare less. They cheat. A farmer with up to 1,500 hectolitre of wine per hectare was identified, others with 600 and 800 – declaring less. Controls will become more common in the cognac region.


Basically the harvest will be a good one this year but there are also probems:

  1. A wood desease: About 25% of the vineyards planted in the 90’s die. Only one thing you can do: Destroy and replant the fields.
  2. Heat. Even when vineyards are quite resistant to dry times, some dry grapes were fried by the sun.
  3. Flavescence dorée: a bacterial desease, that threatens about 38 000 hectares – that’s almost the half of the whole region. The desease spreads quickly, but what’s Flavescence ?

Flavescence dorée is a bacterial disease of the vine with the potential to threaten vineyards. The bacterial agent has recently been named Candidatus Phytoplasma vitis, and its vector is the leafhopper, Scaphoideus titanus. Infection may kill young vines and greatly reduce the productivity of old vines. It is classified as a phytoplasma disease belonging to the group generically termed grapevine yellows. Occurrences are in sporadic epidemics, and varieties vary in their sensitivity to it. (Wikipedia)

The desease spreads quickly.

Some cognac harvest numbers (for the freaks)

  • 5 000 wine growers in Charente
  • 2 400 wine growers use some hectares for other categories than cognac
  • 75 110 hectares in the appellation of cognac
  • 72 160 produce wine destined for cognac production
  • Only about 3000 hectares, that’s 4% of the whole appellation, produce in other categories such as Pineau, juice, win
  • 1 hectolitre = 100 litres
  • The 2010 harvest brings about 9 hl/AP means 9 hectolitres pure alcohol per hectare
  • 675 000 hectolitres of pure alcohol
  • 149 millions bottles of cognac were sold from September 2009 to August 2010. Before the crisis, sales were at 160 millions bottles


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It's harvest time in Cognac country: Problems and numbers!

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Max is a spirits expert and speaker, into marketing, technology, startups, and business development. He’s also a farmer. He likes tools and machines, Game of Thrones, and Better Call Saul. Included in his Top 10 Cognacs are the Audry XO and Bache Gabrielsen 1973. Max founded Cognac Expert in 2010 at his family’s estate in Poullignac, in the Cognac region, France. Started as a blog, today Cognac Expert is the world’s largest website about all things Cognac, a blog, and a specialized online shop featuring 800+ different Cognac bottles.

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