From October until early March, the Champagne region experienced much higher rainfall than usual for this period with around 500 mm (compared to 600 mm in an average year in Champagne!).
On a positive note, this meant that the groundwater tables were well replenished, unlike the previous year. Temperatures remained mild and the morning frosts were few and far between. The winter of 2020 was the warmest recorded by ‘Météo France’ in over a century.
In light of these conditions, the manual work, in particular the pruning, were carried out promptly. The tractors, on the other hand, rarely left the outhouse over the winter and early spring which resulted in us falling behind schedule with our ploughing work.
Covid-19 unfortunately took centre stage in March and the warm weather returned from the start of the lockdown period. You cannot work the vineyards from home and we were therefore required to adapt our working methods (less time spent working as part of a team, fewer trips to the outhouse, no sharing of tools, strict respect of hygiene procedures, etc.) in order to continue our work in the vineyards with some degree of normality.
The soils gradually dried out and we ended up making up for lost time quite quickly on our mechanical work (grinding up the vine branches, spraying fertilisers and most importantly, ploughing). We have now permanently ceased the use of weedkillers on all our plots and mechanical weed removal has become one of our most time-consuming tasks.