Faced with growing demand and limited supply, Champagne growers are mulling extending the existing production hectarage by just under 10%.

In response to a record year for Champagne sales last year, with sales reaching around 320m bottles, Vranken's company secretary, Paul Bamberger, said today (10 April) that the trade is considering the option of an increase in the designated production area - currently at around 32,000 hectares - by a further 3,000 hectares.

He said this would add 400,000 bottles annually to marketable volumes. Bamberger noted, however, that if the trade did decide on such a move it would probably be five years before its impact was felt.

In the meantime, the Maisons de Champagne will take some relief from French appellations body INAO's ruling raising the limit on Champagne production yields in 2007 to 15,500 kilos a hectare of grapes, up from 13,300 kilos previously.