Cultivating vines

It's a long journey from the vines to wine, one that involves patience, observation, reactivity … being constantly on the lookout, allowing our savoir faire to evolve in a way that is worthy of the history of the totally natural, infinitely human character of our vineyards and wines.

Working the vines. A garden in a fragile environment

One job follows another throughout the year, each depending on the season; vine growing cycles… capricious climatic conditions… delicate environment … each has two objectives : to achieve a healthy harvest and safeguard the plants for the future. The work requires true skill; a real savoir faire.

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October & November (recuperation time) :

the harvests are in, the leaves still on the vines. This ‘leafy' phase is vital as, having given up its fruit, the plant can benefit from photosynthesis to regenerate itself.
It's also the period to sow seeds, which will develop into nitrogen producing plants (such as clover or Lucerne), fungicidal plants (such as rye) and deep rooting plants which break up the soil naturally (such as phacelia, mustard and fodder radish).
Working the soil, fertilizing with compost from natural vegetable sources, takes place throughout the vineyard.
This relatively calm period also provides time for maintenance work around the vineyard. Each access lane is pruned. Ditches blocked by storms are cleared, little walls which may have collapsed due to water streams are rebuilt … All work needed for the good of the whole.

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December to March (time to be patient) :

pruning the vines. Real patience needed for this work, each vine is tackled individually, its pruning depending on its individual form.

Dead wood on the plants is removed and burnt so as to avoid any danger of contamination. Pruning not only leads to the vines' health but is also responsible for the quality of the forthcoming harvest. Because it's vital work, it is carried out by our most expert helpers. And to ensure continuity, the name of each pruner is marked on each row so that the same person returns year upon year.

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April to June (things are speeding up) :

time is moving on, vines are growing, jobs multiplying. It's an intensely busy period where speed and precision are required. Over 40 seasonal workers are involved in the different spring jobs :
Planting: Where vines are missing they are replaced. On land parcels where too many have died off or they have become too heterogeneous, they are ripped out and the land allowed to lie fallow for 5-10 years before re-planting.
De-stemming : so as to polish off the winter prune, the number of shoots on each stem are counted and, should there be too many, they are gently removed.
Removing shoots : The base of each stem is gently rubbed by hand so as to remove potentially shoots which may stem from vine grafting.

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Training : depending on the desired length of the vines' branches, these may be trained along trellises so as to maximize the leafy area exposed to the sun and thus improve the plant's photosynthesis.
Soil care : each row is ploughed. The autumn seeded plants are thus dug into the soil thus airing it. Any vegetation which might compete for water with the vines is removed.
Treatment : We are able to use neither insecticides nor pesticides thanks to our moderate climate and the nearby rich, diverse environment. In fact, most potential vine parasites find their enemies in the surrounding countryside. The only treatments we use are designed to fight oïdium and powdery mildew : these are based on sulphur and copper and their use is strictly limited to avoid any potential damage to the environment.

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July and August (a French garden) :

the vines are concentrating on producing good fruit, it's time for the last few jobs – and waiting...

Thinning : having reached their full size, the shoots are removed so that all the plants' energy is devoted to maturing the grapes. The vineyard truly looks like a French garden.
Green harvest and de-foliation : where there seem to be too many bunches, or good maturity seems to be endangered by hydric stress, a ‘green harvest' removes unwanted grape bunches so as to concentrate on producing top quality in the remaining ones. On the other hand, should a year have been too humid, foliage around the bunches is removed so as to create a more healthy setting for them to mature in.

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Second Menu

Created by Henry Florence

At the heart of the Pic Saint Loup,
in the Val de Montferrand, a vineyard
in the heart of the wild garrigue and the hearts of men

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