At Château de Pommard, we’re following what Nature intended, in order to express the purest expression of the terroir. Since our journey towards biodynamic farming began with our organic conversion in 2016, our production methods have steadily evolved. Meet our wonderful Vineyard Team, in the heart of Clos Marey-Monge.
Organic and biodynamic, the difference
In 2019, we received our organic certification by the National Organization of Origin and Quality (INAO), which guarantees that we do not use any synthetic pesticides or fertilizers on our vines.
Driven by our desire for a more sustainable and long-lasting approach, we then began a full biodynamic conversion which was rewarded with Demeter certification in 2021. Biodynamics considers the vineyard as an ecosystem, and the soil as a living being in constant evolution. It is based on three key principles: the balance between the soil and the plants, the development of natural fertilizers and the influence of lunar rhythms.
The daily work on a biodynamic estate
Prior to his arrival at the Château in August 2022, vineyard team member Avriel had worked in a certified organic domain but never with biodynamic practices with its list of special preparations that work to enliven the soil. “The main difference lies in the preparations, such as 500 (horn dung), 501 (silica) and compost preparations", he explains. “Following the lunar calendar to perform certain tasks, such as pruning, was new to me”.
To apply the principles of biodynamic viticulture within the Clos, we make our own 500 preparation by burying cow horns filled with fresh cow dung. We let it rest during the winter and then dig it up at the spring equinox. Then, we spray this preparation on the soil to encourage soil life and the establishment of the root systems.
In addition, we bury the horn silica (preparation 501) at the spring equinox and dig it up at the autumn equinox, to be sprayed on the leaves several times during the season to promote an harmonious growth of vine branches, enhance photosynthetic activity and encourage grape development and ripening.
Is working biodynamically more demanding for the team? “Overall, biodynamics do not take much more time than organic and conventional agriculture,” says Avriel. “But it requires more of a workforce”. For Sabrina, who arrived in the Château in 2020, one of the main requirements is that “all preparations must be applied at very specific times of the day”, which requires motivation from the whole team. “Since we’re certified organic, we don’t use chemicals and we need to make more passes by tractor and horse during the year", says Mado, tractor driver at the Château since January 2023.
Jean-Rémi, our Vineyard Manager, has the bigger picture. “The greatest effort is the transition from conventional to organic,” he says. “Biodynamics requires a little extra work in the evenings or mornings, good organization and, above all, a good understanding of the soil and the vines”.
Despite these extra efforts, the team now doesn’t feel like they would want to work any other way: "I would never accept a position in a conventional domain, I need to be in harmony with nature", continues Mado.
Manu, our horse manager, sums up the dynamic of the approach: "Biodynamics is a combination of several preparations to be carried out throughout the year in a rigorous way. But it must also be accompanied by the different works of vineyards and soils to obtain optimal results: one cannot go without the other". Clearly, balance is the key!
What can we expect from the 2023 vintage?
The 2023 vintage looks promising if the weather conditions remain favorable. Avriel is nevertheless concerned about the presence of fungal diseases: "The rainfall having been low this winter and spring, I fear that it will increase during the vine growth causing the development of mildew”. Jean-Rémi weighs in: “For the moment, we seem to be avoiding the frosts. The biggest challenge at the moment is the very bad weather which prevents us from managing our weeds properly and the spectrum of fungal diseases”.
Concerning the future harvest, Mado declares: “Everything is going well but we have to see how it evolves over time.The yield is often lower in organic viticulture, but the quality is ensured”.
To be continued!