2. Working the soil
We only use those natural products that are harmless for the environment, preserving the essential subsoil microbic life: bacteria, insects, and earthworm. The latter are essential for a proper airing and enriching of the earth ; as an example, a normal density of inchworms will plow 300 tons of earth per hectare in a single year. To encourage this natural action, we incorporate organic matter in our soils : wood and plant debris, straw etc.
It is essential for the soil to be alive and active for the elaboration of complex wines : the roots must reach the depths to feed on the mother plate. As a result, the soils become much less sensitive to erosion, which is one of the greatest plagues of modern times, a plague that threatens the future of agriculture. Not so long ago, a good vineyard was considered one without weeds, and these criteria would distinguish the good wine grower from the bad. All this was ludicrous and lead wine growers to using increasing amounts of chemical weedkillers, which became more and more powerful and destructive to beat an also increasing weed resistance. For us, having weeds in our vines is, on the contrary, the evidence our soils are alive. Moreover, these weeds protect the soils from erosion and shelter the predators of harmful insects.
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|Working the soil and weed planting to suppress the use of chemical weed killers. || ||Working on the soil of a weed planted vineyard on the Vallongue plateau, a magnificent land shared by both Lirac and Tavel appellations. |
In fall, for example, we let vineyards get completely invaded by weeds until springtime : this protects the soil from erosion for months, nourishes the soil through a natural decomposition process, sheltering and nourishing a considerable amount of fauna. From hares to little bustards, a protected species listed in Annex II of the Bern Convention. Little bustards choose our vineyards for a halt every year, feeding on the permanent great variety of insects in our lands, before continuing their migration.
We then un-compact the soils in-depth without mixing the different layers of earth, using special tools that cannot destroy the covering vegetation. Furthermore, in the past few years, we have even voluntarily and permanently planted weeds on all the parcels of land that allowed it: these vines are just mowed from time to time for upkeep.