The heart of our profession
The major stages
Winter pruning and summer vine work constitutes the great majority of the manual operations and adds up to many hundreds of hours per hectare.
Choosing the right moment is important, and we work with the biodynamic calendar as much as possible.
Weather is also a determining factor for working in the vines. Sometimes it is disruptive, forcing us to move forward or push back our schedule.
In organic viticulture, more than anywhere else, anticipation is absolutely essential. For this, it is necessary to be present in the vineyard.
1- Pruning :
At the domaine, we practice two different types of pruning, "Cordon de Royat" for Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier and the "Chablis" pruning method for the Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Arbanne.
The work is the longest of all the manual labor, stretching from November to March. It is also the work that stuctures the plant, giving it his strength and beauty, and prepares the harvest.
It is important for the strength of the plants, because trimming allows us to guarantee the best sap circulation possible, and for the beauty of the plants because it allows for an aesthetic balance of the plant and above all lets the sun rays to hit all of the leaves.
It also determines the position of the grapes, vital for grapes that are growing in good conditions with maximum ventilation. The quality of the harvest relies on it.
2- Biodynamic compost :
During the month of January, we prepare the compost for all of our vineyards that will feed the vines for the next season.
Cow manure and grape pomace from preceding harvest are mixed and put in regular piles to allow for the evolution of this pile to be absorbed by the plant for 9-12 months. There, we add 7 biodynamic preparations before covering up the piles. This product goes through multiple steps of transformation before what we call maturity. This is a work-intensive task that takes almost 3 weeks in the month of January.
Depending on the weather, the compost will be spread between October and January.
3- Disbudding :
The first work on green sprouts, it perfects the ventilation that we want for the grapes during trimming. It involves removing the growths that are growing on old branches at the buds that disrupt air and sun.
It happens in the month of April or May, depending on the climate of the year.
4- Trellissing :
This process is done in June and July, and involves separating the newly-grown offshoots using wires and ties that will maintain them in their position.
The goal is again to allow for aeration and maximum exposure to the sun.
5- Weeding :
In June and July, weeds on the ground are in full swing. Spades and shears are brought out together with some elbow grease. Depending to the weather, certain years are easier than others. Wet years are of course the most difficult.
This operation is substantial, needing many people at a time when the work is already very intensive. Maintaining the grass at an acceptable level of growth is of the essence in order to avoid competition for water and nutrients with the vines.
6- Trimming :
Trimming consists of eliminating certain parts of the canopy in order to allow the sun to bring more light to the grapes for their maturity and richness. This end of season work usually takes place toward mid-July.
7- The harvest :
Of course, we finish the season by picking the mature grapes. A fine team of 40 pickers from all over Europe, with plenty of drive, meet ever year under our roof. And it is with great pleasure and with a lot of energy that this team helps us "bring in" our grapes to the press to give new life : wine.
8- The vinification :
The juices evolve in vats or in barrel until almost spring or summer of the following year. We wait for the favorable energetic moment to bottle the champagne. The bottled wines are aged in the underground cave between 3 and 6 years to be then sold all over the world : from Tokyo to New York, without forgetting Copenhagen, Madrid or Rome ...