The Domaine de la Vougeraie has just obtained Ecocert certification for the entire estate of 34 hectares of vines, cultivated totally organically since its creation in 1999. A first 19 hectares had already received the certification, but for administrative reasons, the remaining 15 have only just qualified.
Ecocert is a control and certification body, whose activities are governed by the public authorities and legislation. Ecocert is accredited by the French National Institute for Origins and Quality.
Three years of uninterrupted organic cultivation are necessary to obtain the certification and total transparency is essential. Random soil samples are taken a minimum of once a year, and both soil and/or leaves are analyzed to check for the absence of any residue. In parallel, administrative checks are made to match up purchased products with the land.
Of course, no pesticides may be used with this kind of cultivation, only exclusively organic, plant-based products, natural hormones (pheromones having a harmful effect on butterfly reproduction), or natural micro fauna such as bacteria which attack grape berry and vine moths. Thus, there is greater biodiversity of fauna, such as an increased presence of ladybirds, which is very good for this fragile equilibrium.
In phytosanitary terms, synthetic products are banned, and only copper and sulfur are permitted, although the current maximum authorized usage of 8kg/hectare will be reduced to 6kg/hectare from 2010, which is approximately the current level used at the Domaine.
Organic cultivation is a more costly operation than using traditional methods. Subscriptions to the relevant bodies, the high price of treatments and above all, labor costs must be taken into consideration. Indeed, because the work done on the land is preventative and not curative, it is essential to maintain healthy, well aerated vines. This requires constant observation and a well-trained workforce, and the regular application of green practices at every stage, including évasivage (removing excess buds after flowering) and relevage (tying up the vine shoots) to prevent the formation of pockets of damp.
Indeed, this approach that so respects the environment has really shown its worth in this difficult year where organic producers have had an easier time of things thanks to the frequency of their checks and treatments, compared to a more systematic chemical approach which takes less account of the weather. And the weather is a critical factor in organic cultivation, because just 20mm of rainfall washes away any treatment.
After eight years of organic cultivation, the Domaine de la Vougeraie vignoble has shown significant improvement. The vines are more resistant and their immune system has been strengthened through the use of natural infusions.
Moreover, starting with the 2007 harvest, the Domaine will be adding an organic logo to its rear labels, in response to a growing demand. It should be noted that this is a relatively rare occurrence, because although 3-5% of Burgundy producers claim to be organic, only 2% have official certification, so spread the word!
Moving towards organic cultivation is one of Boisset’s global philosophies. Indeed, the vines at Bonpas have this year gone over to organic cultivation, and are now worked following the lunar calendar, and the same spirit is also driving a green strategy at the Château de Pierreux. In California, DeLoach Vineyards has been applying biodynamic principles since 2004, with the aim of becoming certified, and in Canada, Le Clos Jordanne has been organically certified since 2006.