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  • Sustainable Viticulture

    Our philosophy: Ecological and sustainable viticulture

    In the Champalou family, we have been winemakers for 13 generations on the female side and 7 generations on the male side. It is therefore the farmer's blood that flows through our veins because, while being winemakers, we are above all farmers.

    It is thanks to this rural lifestyle, to the experience of our ancestors, their observations, their errors as well as their improvements, that our approach to our profession has always considered the respect for nature through the practices of sustainable viticulture. On a daily basis, in family discussions, respect, feelings and observation have always been obvious and form the basis of a course of action.

    Our primary goal is to have flourishing grapevines, breathing in well-being. In a word: find balance.

    Our vineyard has always been managed in an environmentally sustainable way. Since 2000 we have been certified Terra Vitis. This association, led by passionate winemakers and technicians, represents sustainable viticulture in France. The production specifications are adapted to each region. It is indeed difficult to cultivate the vine in all regions in the same way.

    To follow through on our approach, we have been HVE-3 certified since 2016, a certification recognized by the French government.


    Le travail de la vigne au Domaine Champalou

    Our way of working.

    Since the creation of the winery in 1983, it has always been the norm to be vignerons who observe our grapevines, to provide them what they need, when they need it, and all this with an ecological approach.

    We work with respect for the environment, and focus on mechanical and manual operations. For example, disbudding, leaf thinning, allowing the naturally present faune to grow and the use of talc and lime, which protect the grapevines from humidity while stimulating its natural defenses.

    Each operation only takes place after an observation. All of our decisions are therefore carefully taken into account. We are always looking for a balance between our options and our actions.

    Furthermore, in order that our work is always of quality, our reflections and approaches evolve over time. It is important to continue to question yourself, to learn. That is why we participate in trainings and meetings, through which we exchange with our fellow winemakers.

    How do we reason?

    First of all by listening to the words of our ancestors.

    viticulture durable, champalou

    Human beings have always associated the biological rhythm of the grapevine (and all living things) with that of the moon. The impact of certain actions is improved by their strategic execution in relation to the lunar calendar . We take this into account to carry out tasks such as managing the weeds, topping, the date of harvest, bottling and for other everyday tasks.

    By being reasonable and using what nature provides...

    During the summer season we powder the grapevines with talc and lime (both natural products) to minimize the harmful influence of humidity. Lime also helps strengthen the natural defenses of grapes by hardening its skin.

    By limiting fuel consumption through the combination of mechanical operations…

    In order to thrive, the grapevines need attention and a lot of work. This is why we have adapted our equipment to carry out two operations with one pass of the tractor. We thus reduce our emissions while respecting our environment well our respecting nature.

    By fighting through prophylaxis practices: the vines are pruned short, then disbudded and finally the leaf thinning. The aim of all this anticipation is to have a sufficient and well-aired harvest, while avoiding sources of humidity and eventual diseases.

    By favoring nature: our vineyards are “cover cropped” with native grass and weeds (local and natural). The protection of the vineyard is also carried out with biodegradable and natural products: talcum powder, lime and sulfur, essential oils of orange peel (to dry and purify).

    By trying to accentuate what we harvest: through time, we have learned how to anticipate maturity on our different terroirs. This is why each plot is observed in a unique way, in order to determine its best harvest date. We love the elegance of the chenin, which is why we are looking for its full maturity and not an over-maturity which could weigh down its character traits.

    Finally, the protection of the vineyard is applied at low doses, only when necessary and above all with biodegradable compounds.

    Sustainable viticulture and its work throughout the seasons.

    The work of the vine is fascinating in the sense that it makes us live at the rhythm of the seasons. The more the vine grows, the more it needs our attention.

    Each task in its time…

    1. Winter, all about pruning

      It is a very important task in viticulture. It runs from November to March. Pruning is a crucial act in the management of the vineyard, because it is here that one determines their future harvest. Our grape variety, Chenin, requires a short pruning which we call “gobelet” pruning. Each vine carries several arms on which we leave a spur (short rod) with two eyes. The total load per grapevine is on average eight buds. Then, the branches that are pruned are placed in the middle of the row and shredded in order to naturally decompose to the soil.

    2. In spring the vines require more and more care

      First of all, it is the moment of disbudding and desuckering. These steps consist of removing badly placed, weak, infertile or unnecessary shoots for the vine. The advantage is to allow better growth of branches and young leaves and therefore future grape clusters. These two actions also aim to keep the microclimate well-aerated, thus improving the overall and optimal quality of the harvest.

    3. Then, it is the binding, folding and trellis maintenance. This work consists of maintaining the vertical growth of the vegetation between two so-called “bridle” wires. It is necessary to raise the branches, first of all to be able to drive through the rows with the tractors, but also to promote photosynthesis and to keep the future harvest ventilated.

    4. During the summer, the tasks are very varied. It is necessary to control the natural “cover-crop”, to maintain and renew the trellis (stakes and wires). We are also vigilant against weeds, insects and vine diseases.

      The mechanical rather than the chemical: the natural vegetation and weeds in the row middle and under the trellis are managed through mechanical practices. These operations are combined as much as possible – trimming with leaf thinning, mowing with tillage – all in order to limit our carbon footprint.

    5. With the summer, the branches and the leaves continue to grow: this is why we spend several times trimming and leaf thinning. Trimming is used to manage the growth of the grapevines and to concentrate the growth towards the young leaves and the grape clusters. The principle of leaf stripping is to remove the leaves that are at the level of the grapes to keep the microclimate aerated. These two actions are of course different from one year to another and adapted according to the weather and the vintage.

    6. September...

      The last step, the long awaited moment... we taste the grapes. We try again a few days later. We taste another time.  We taste once more...

      At last! The grapes have finally reached their maturity… The long-awaited harvest time has arrived…