We were first awarded sustainable certification by Terra Vitis in 2002 when we were amongst a handful of producers in Provence to be the first to go down this path. However, frustrated by the lack of recognition for our efforts and the cost of getting audited, we abandoned that certification in 2010. We fundamentally don’t agree with the organic rule book on environmental grounds so we continued running our vineyard the best way we knew. However in 2019 we noticed a shift in attitudes in part thanks to the French government’s effort to promote HVE as the official sustainable agricultural certification so we obtained HVE certification in 2020.
What is HVE and how is it different from organic?
The organic rule book cares mostly about whether the pesticides that they allow are natural or synthetic in origin. The HVE rule book doesn’t think this is relevant, what matters is the level of toxicity and lifecycle of the molecules as some molecules quickly breakdown into harmless molecules while others never breakdown. The compound we mostly disagree with is organic’s use of copper which we think is a toxic heavy metal that never breaks down and which washes away with each rainfall and therefore requires more frequent spraying which incidentally results in more GHGs from the tractors doing the spraying. For everything else we share a lot in common: we basically favour mechanical weeding over herbicides, employ best practices that limit the use of pesticides and natural fertilizers (ideally compost) best soil management practices to limit the need to use any fertilizer and only what the vines need. We also capture any runoff from our spraying equipment and have it treated as we do for the winery waste.
What we do above and beyond the requirements of HVE certification
All our electricity that we consume is renewable. We are planning on installing solar panels on our winery roofs and farm building amounting to __Kw which represents X% of our annual consumption of electricity. We intend to implement a carbon accounting so that we can set ourselves the target of being carbon neutral by 2050 in line with the Paris accords.
We are exploring and testing new ideas all the time. We recently partnered with a neighbouring grower who composts vegetative waste from gardens and applied ploughed it into 3ha of new plots that we will plant this year. The tonnage is huge and we wanted to test how feasible it is to implement over the entire vineyard.
If you look at the carbon footprint of the average wine estate, the lowest hanging fruit is glassware. The energy required for the production of glass accounts on average for one third of all the energy required in a bottle of wine. We have been looking at increasing bag in box and implementing PET bottles but we are confronted with negative consumer perception of these alternative forms of packaging. We recognize some new players in the market who doing a great job changing this perception including BIB Wine company and Garçon Wines and we hope to partner with them or follow in their footsteps as and when we get get our distributors and retailers onboard. In the meantime you can buy our bib rosé.
We also think there are exciting new technologies that could enable us to extract more value from our winery waste that is less energy intensive than the current process but this is still very much at a research stage.