Grape pickers harvest fruit from the vines at the Philippe Gonet vineyard during the traditional Champagne wine harvest in Montgueux.

Corks are popping for champagne producers who are set to enjoy their best harvest in a decade thanks to the heatwave.

While the grape harvest would normally take place in September, this year’s kicked off on Tuesday and is only the fifth in the last 15 years to begin in August.

Champagne wines are expected to see a sharp rise in production, up 56% from last year to 3.5 million hectoliters, after several years of unsatisfying crops due to bad weather.

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association said 2018 was set to be a vintage year thanks to a wet spring followed by the heatwave that led to early flowering vines and generous bunches which were “shaping up to provide a bountiful harvest”.

Maxime Toubart, the president of the Champagne winegrowers’ union, said: ‘The last few years have been tough. This year is expected to be exceptionally good so we are very happy.’

Each year, 310 million bottles of French Champagne are sold worldwide while more than a billion are stored in cellars waiting for the right moment.