Champagne was a region before it was a sparkling wine. There are about 15,000 growers at last count in the Champagne region. The growers cultivate their family vineyards, with an average size of 1.5 hectares.
At the time of the harvest, the growers sell their grapes to the Champagne Houses, or entrust them to a Cooperative. Many thousands retain grapes to make their own Growers Champagne, wines that express the individuality of their ‘terroir’.
The area of wine production is strictly defined in accordance with the law of July 22, 1927 and accounts for approximately 3% of the total area under vine in France.
The Montagne de Reims is a large, fairly flat plateau, thickly carpeted with vineyards that slope gently towards the valleys of the Vesle and the Ardre to the north and the Marne to the south.
The Marne Valley extends 100kms, from Saâcy-sur-Marne in the département of Seine-et-Marne to Tours-sur-Marne beyond Epernay. The vineyards line the flanks of the valley that slope more or less gently towards the banks of the river and nestle into smaller valleys on either side.
The Côte des Blancs, so-called because it is almost exclusively devoted to white grapes, is a cliff at right angles with the Montagne de Reims south of Epernay.
The area under vine in the region of Vitry-le-François, remains confined to a few communes only.
The Côte des Bar extend the wine-growing area to the south. Those around Villenauxe-la-Grande are in effect the continuation of the southern section of the Marne vineyard, but Montgueux in the immediate vicinity of Troyes also cultivates a few dozen hectares of vines.