We are allowed to work as normal but must carry a document explaining what our activity is, as we spend all of our time outside having to spend free time inside is not that difficult for us. We did plan to bottle some wine but we have paused that because it would mean us having to leave the village. Taking samples of wine to the I.C.V. Laboratory at Nimes and collect bottles and corks at location near to Chateauneuf du Pape. We usually try to collect because it is very difficult for the supplier to get their lorry in our yard as we live in an old village.
On the two locations where we planted we lost 50 at Vayere and 23 at Font du Clos which is about 10%, I was expecting it to be much higher because of the drought and high temperatures that we experienced last year.
This is a replacement in the Vayere area, we had very little growth there last year; the vineyard is planted at a density of 5,000 per hectare and the vines are only one metre apart down the line so there is a lot of competition from other vines and it was a very dry year. In this vineyard we pruned them all back to 3 eyes (buds).
Clips: you can see the clips that support the rods, I attached 5,000 of these last year, my knuckles noticed it! It is important because it gives some rigidity to the structure for when I use the new plough. The plough is an intercep, that is it operates down the line of vines, a blade comes out at 90 degrees to the plough and there is a sensor rod just before it, when it touches the steel rods the blade withdraws. You can see that the plough is very efficient at controlling weeds which is very important with replacements, the traditional method is to use a hoe with a lot of walking on ploughed land.
These are the replacements at Font du Clos this is an older vineyard that I did not plant (year), the vines are planted 1.5metres apart down the line and some have had vines missing for a much longer period so the replacements having generally been more vigorous. so we have not pruned all of them back to 2 eyes.
I have only been through once with the plough that is why there are more weeds.
We have been badly affected by frost as have many other producers: nearly 100%. This will mean another small harvest. We have only been affected by frost on two occasions since I have been here and only at small plots that suffer from movement of cold air. In the past this has happened between the 2nd and third weekends in April. This year's winter has been very mild here and the vines were nearly two weeks in advance, the frost occurred on the 25th of March, what made it so bad was during the night there was a light shower which meant there was plenty of moisture. Before this it had been very dry.
On this image you can see what is left of the grape bunches: the stems the machine only harvests the berries. this vineyard is Pradel and the vine variety is Grenache.
Even though there have been 3 small harvests over the past the wine on the bulk market has not been selling well. Originally the problem was the tariffs that have been imposed on the American market. Secondly outbreak of the Coronovirus in China meant that there was little demand for the Chinese to celebrate their new year. The Cooperative has asked producers to participate in a scheme where producers are registered as being environmentally responsible, we have agreed to participate. It looks as we will qualify our working practices are well above what is required. Use of products to protect the vines: we never use the stated dose for two thirds of our treatments we use less than 50%. Little use of herbicides, usually no treatments with insecticide. Very little use of nitrogen fertiliser. Also because of the work we have to carry out maintaining drainage ditches and borders with forest. We have 1.014 kms (0.63 miles) of forest edges and 2.34 kms (1.454 miles) of ditches to maintain.
Apparently there is a demand by French wine merchants for wine that has this classification. Organic produced wine is not necessarily beneficial for the environment: you have to make many more passages with the tractor. You have to plough, treatments are more frequent and organic fertiliser is more bulky.
You are allowed to use this logo on your label, it costs us 960€ every three years to participate in this scheme.