For a living soil: vegetative cover at our Family Estates.

Published 30.06.2021
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Les efforts environnementaux sont au cœur des préoccupations de la famille Castel sur leurs vingt propriétés à travers la France.

Inspired by a virtuous philosophy, Technical Director Cédric Pla and the teams at each château have worked hard to reduce inputs, focussing on intelligent soil tillage, to serve the quality of the wines and the sustainability of the winemaking process.

“The basic aim is to bring life to the soils”, exclaims Cédric Pla, “because a living soil hosts the organic matter and returns it to the vines.” Replacing chemical treatments, the Technical Director, as well as the property managers and their teams have redoubled their efforts, focussing on innovative techniques. They have worked hard to develop mechanical tillage, with the ultimate aim of covering 100% of the surfaces, and eradicating herbicides. Protecting biodiversity has become a daily concern, via a new approach to vegetative cover, using carefully selected seedlings.

Encouraging biodiversity

“Historically, in Bordeaux, prioritising the “tidiness” of the vineyard, winemakers weeded the entire surface,” recalls Ludovic Hérault, property manager at Château Montlabert. “Today, practises have evolved, and it has become clear that the former approach left the soils vulnerable to erosion. At Château Montlabert, we haven’t used herbicides since 2011.” While natural vegetative cover has been used for a long time as a means to encourage soil life, the downside of such methods was that they tended to provide unwanted competition for the vines, relying on the same nutritive elements in order to grow. To avoid this scenario, vegetative cover is planted between the rows of vines, prioritising low growing seedlings, frequently covering every two rows. This is the case at Château Montlabert, although covers may also be installed on two rows out of every three.