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The Other Side of Champagne

It’s National Champagne Day, and while good cheer is in order, it’s perhaps important to remember that the Champagne region has had a difficult past. Located in northeastern France, Champagne lies directly along the route from Germany to Paris. During both World Wars, the vineyards here were a battlefield furrowed with trenches and gutted with shell holes. Many vines were uprooted, shrouded in poison gas, or killed by disease and neglect. With most men at war, women and children were left to harvest whatever grapes remained and make what wine they could. By the end of World War I alone, 40% of Champagne’s vines had disappeared, and in the main village of Reims, only a handful of Champagne firms remained intact.

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