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Biodiversity is the variety of life on earth and is critical to combat climate change and other environmental concerns.
Winegrowers can play an essential role in protecting the environment. The grapes being a perennial crop, there are opportunities throughout the years to build an ecosystem and use practices like planting cover crops, installing hedgerows, and supporting local flora and fauna and pollinators.
Dourthe in Bordeaux
A key player in Bordeaux for sustainability, all their estates are HVE3 (high environmental value), and Terra Vitis (an environmental approach specific to the wine industry) certified and surpass environmental requirements in many areas.
- No CMR substances
- No botrytis fungicides
- No chemical fertilisers
- Grassing over and temporary cover planting
- More than 4,400m of hedgerows planted on the estates for the privacy of local residents and to protect water supplies.
- Ploughing soils for their premium and ultra-premium wines and avoiding use of all chemical herbicides
- Using predominantly organic products and biological control agents
Eco Grazing at Chateau Belgrave, Haut Medoc
Every year, their flock of local Landais sheep graze freely in the vineyards and are instrumental in maintaining and fertilizing the soils, not to mention adding their own blend of fun and frolics to the estate!
‘Père-Noël’ and ‘Princesse’. Born in February at Chateau Belgrave, the two lambs were duly named by mascot Luma, daughter of estate manager, Bertrand Delavelle (photos by Dourthe)
Cereals and legumes are sown between the vine rows in autumn as required. As it grows throughout the winter, the cover planting protects the soil, improves its structure and acts as a natural fertiliser while creating corridors to promote biodiversity. The vines look all the more magnificent with the joys of spring.
Local fauna at Chateau La Garde
This year we have been working closely with the Birds Protection Association (LPO) to collect data on different species living on the estate. The first set of data has already shown flourishing signs of life, with sightings of Tawny owls, little owls and Long-eared owls. Six species of amphibians also seem to have taken up residence in the vines, including Mediterranean tree frogs, Palmate newts and Marsh frogs. It’s good news all around, and hopefully, this is just the start, providing ample proof that biodiversity and sustainable viticulture can live side by side in harmony.
Beehives – happy culture in the vines
Natural pollinators, the black honeybees in the six hives in Belgrave in the Medoc are doing their bit to develop flora around the vines and promote biodiversity.
Domaine Trapet, Gevrey Chambertin and Alsace (Biodynamic)
A family whose name is recognised as pioneers of sustainability is Trapet.
Andrée and Jean-Louis Trapet are winemakers in biodynamics in exceptional places: Riquewihr in Alsace and Gevrey-Chambertin in Burgundy.
In Burgundy, they completely removed herbicides in the vineyards in the early nineties and had a few tries with biodynamics in 1995. The Domaine was fully certified biodynamic in 1997 (Demeter and Biodyvin). Andrée took over her family estate in Alsace in 2002 and converted it to biodynamics in 2003, like their Domaine in Burgundy.
Their wines are well balanced, pure, fresh, and elegant.
To adapt to global warming in Alsace, they work the soil and have vines high on stakes where the shade protects the grapes. The balance is better with stakes, and the vine behaves differently.
Mauro Molino, Barolo, La Morra
Mauro Molino winery is a young and dynamic company but strongly connected to its tradition and roots. They produce wines from the following vineyards: Barolo, Langhe DOC Nebbiolo, Barbera d’Alba.
Headed by Martina and Matteo Molino, the second generation. They are big fans of sustainable agriculture and Cover crops in particular:
Cover crop is an agronomic practice derived from organic agriculture. It consists of sowing special crops to maintain or increase soil fertility, biodiversity, and wildlife. These plants are generally used to suppress weeds, control soil erosion, and help improve soil fertility. They also counteract the arrival of diseases and promote biodiversity.
They are also nitrogen-fixing agents, absorbing atmospheric nitrogen and transferring it to the soil. In this way, subsoil life becomes naturally enriched.
Sowing takes place in alternate rows during autumn or winter. Cover crop is composed of legumes and grasses.
The result is simply stunning in their vineyards!
Marco Mosconi, Valpolicella, Illasi Verona (Organic)
A newish agency to our list, Marco Mosconi farm practices an organic and sustainable agriculture.
They have started some new and exciting projects this spring:
“We are starting a new adventure with bees and medicinal herbs within our farm. The goal is to self-produce the herbs and essences we use for the treatments in the vineyard. Bees bring biodiversity into the environment, and who knows, maybe a few pots of honey”.
Domaine Bousquet, Argentina (Organic)
Domaine Bousquet is a family-owned winery in Mendoza, Argentina, and an organic wine leader. Pioneers of Sustainable Winemaking since 1997, they help the environment in many ways:
“We are dedicated to farming organically while improving our land’s biodiversity. We believe that the healthier the vineyard, the better the fruit and, of course, the wine. In other words, by nourishing the land and treating it with respect, we know that the land will give us back its finest fruits.”
- By supporting the land where their winery is located, amplifying biodiversity and letting the natural environment around our farm thrive. They also have their own organic vegetable farm onsite. No chemicals are used, and they never overuse their water supply.
- By hiring employees from their local community as they believe that sustainability also means supporting their local economy. Ninety-five per cent of the employees at Bousquet reside just six miles away.
- By helping growers in the Tupungato, Mendoza region, to certify more than 1,000 hectares besides their own, with the mission to convert most of the region to organic farming.
- By committing to bottling in the UK to reduce its carbon emissions, with their ultimate ambition to be a carbon neutral winery by 2025.
Domaine Bousquet is also a founding member of the Sustainable Wine Roundtable, created to fight climate change.
Domaine de Valdition, Alpilles, Aix en Provence (Organic)
The Domaine de Valdition is located in the Alpilles area, in Provence, between the villages of Orgon and Eygalières. And exceptional and preserved site.
Respect and love for this land prompted the Valdition team to take an ever-more environmental approach and move from responsible farming to organic farming in 2006.
The Valdition estate has also been certified level 3 “High environmental value” since 2021.
Organic and HVE make it possible to promote different but complementary agro-ecological practices that contribute to the preservation of the environment.
“Organic farming means no use of herbicides that contaminate soils, lead to resistant weeds and jeopardise the consumer. We work the soil gently to eliminate weeds. Tilling aerates the soil, mineralises organic matter, and reduces water stress during the summer. Tilling discourages the vines’ shallow roots and encourages the roots to go deeper and deeper.
Agro-chemical mineral fertilisers are not used in organic farming. Such mineral fertilisers and herbicides are a major source of pollution for groundwater and watercourses. We prefer organic composts and farm manure that nourish the soil directly and the vine indirectly. These organic materials’ slow, sustainable mineralisation nurtures the vines more smoothly and gradually.
Tillage and organic composts make it possible to obtain grapes that have more flavour and better organoleptic balance. They encourage the vine roots to explore the soil, which leads to a better expression of the soil, the terroir.”
Benoit Gautier, Vouvray
Benoit Gautier from Domaine de la Chataigneraie in Vouvray received a certification for 1,7 tonnes of CO2 sequestered.
“Based on the CO2 balance studies carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers Benoit Gautier has contributed to the sequestration of up to 1,7 tonnes of CO2 through its purchase and utilisation of cork stoppers during the 12 months period from 1st January to 31st December 2021”
A great way to help the environment!