They think about the effect of every vineyard operation on the environment and biodiversity. They protect their terroir so it can express its true potential and make sure to manage energy, natural resources, and waste the best they can. Preventing risks and pollution, as well as an ongoing concern for protecting people and the environment, are essential priorities.
Responsible farmers' performance goes behind health rules laid down by the law. If grown in the most balanced way possible, vines produce a large crop of healthy grapes.
Responsible farmers have a strategy for growing crops naturally. This includes many actions such as:
Responsible farmers respect and protect their environment. Aware that biodiversity is useful for grape growing, they undertake various actions to enhance it, both in and outside planted areas.
Thanks to the introduction of bee hives on estates, it is possible to analyse the honey to know what vegetative species are present. Château Larose Trintaudon has signed the "Bees, sentinels of the environment" charter established by the UNAF (Union Nationale de l'Apiculture Française – French Association of Beekeepers) and has six hives. Thanks to their role in pollination, bees have a positive environmental role. That is why Château Larose Trintaudon protects them.
This entails setting aside areas without crops to enhance biodiversity: fallow land where flowers, hedges, etc. grow.
For instance, Château Larose Trintaudon planted 1.5 km of hedges, including honey plants.
Aware of the impact of their activities on the environment (which, of course, they depend on), responsible farmers find out what the best practices are, use natural products, investigate alternative solutions, and are prepared to experiment.
Terra Vitis® and HVE (Haute Valeur Environnementale, or High Environmental Value certification granted to farms by the French Minister for Agriculture, Food, Fisheries, Rural and Regional Planning) certifications and signing charters such as "Bees, sentinels of the environment" prove that the estate applies environmentally-friendly practices.
Knowing the number of species present on the estate and how they are developing is a good way of indicating biodiversity.
This entails evaluating the number of hectares given over to vegetation (fallow land with flowers, ecological corridors, etc.) compared with the number of hectares of vines. This will give a general idea of the estate's commitment on behalf of biodiversity.
Regional environmental associations, the French ministries of agriculture and ecology, and the UNAF (Union Nationale de l'Apiculture Française - French Association of Beekeepers) are precious allies in setting up environmental protection programmes. Audit firms, consultants, training organizations, and universities (such as Bordeaux Sciences Agro) are also worth contacting.
Responsible farmers are duty-bound to optimise the management of solid and liquid waste until their total elimination. These must be systematically treated and recovered/recycled as much as possible.
Responsible farmers identify the treatment and recycling networks adapted to each kind of waste and train their employees to sort and collect.
Certain estates find it useful to share their waste treatment and recycling. This is what Château Larose Trintaudon does in the framework of the CEPAGES association (Club des Entreprises associées pour la Promotion et l’Amélioration de la Gestion de l’Environnement et de la Sécurité, but also French for "grape varieties), started by the Libourne Chamber of Commerce and Industry. This association combines the waste of 230 companies in the Gironde department to reduce costs, and processes over 80% of the waste produced by Château Larose Trintaudon.
In order to recycle waste as efficiently as possible, it is necessary to clearly identify different kinds, and to sort them. Thanks to a detailed classification, Château Larose Trintaudon manages to treat 100% of all waste and to recycle 68%. The château keeps a "waste register" listing the 13 families of non-dangerous waste and 16 families of dangerous waste. The latter are listed on a waste follow-up form that leads to full traceability once the waste leaves the estate and until such time as it is destroyed.
A biological station treats waste water resulting from winemaking. Château Larose Trintaudon has their own biological station that transforms effluents into mud. Once dried and analysed, this mud is used as fertiliser in the vineyard.
It is essential for responsible farmers to keep up-to-date with information about waste treatment and recycling, and to be involved in innovations. Efficiently also depends on regular employee training.
ISO 14001 certification guarantees the estate's performance in terms of environmental management, including waste management, as does HVE (Haute Valeur Environnementale, or High Environmental Value) certification).
Knowing this makes it possible to compare the production of waste to the area under vine and with results at other estates.
Once waste has been collected, it is important to keep track of the share that is recovered. An increase tends to reflect improved sorting.
Local chambers of commerce and trade organisations can offer efficient solutions adapted to specific activities (example: the Libourne Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the CEPAGES Association. Audit firms (example: certification by the Association Française pour l'Assurance de la Qualité, or AFNOR,) and service providers such as VEOLIA can also offer precious advice.
Treatments entail the use of chemical input products such as fertilisers, organic amendments, plant protection products, etc. on land or crops. Responsible farmers do their utmost to reduce input products as much as possible, while protecting their crops and promoting biodiversity.
Plant protection measures are kept to a minimum, and are never systemic. The right dose of the right product is used at the right time.
Creating a weather station
A good knowledge of meteorological phenomena is crucial for fighting against vine diseases. Setting up a weather station can thus be very useful.
Preferring organic to chemical disease-fighting methods
Organic methods have proved to be a viable alternative to conventional plant protection products. For example, Château Larose Trintaudon uses mating disruption in 90% of the vineyard to protect against grape berry moths. Mating disruption consists of disseminating pheromones so that male moths cannot find females. This means that no eggs are laid and that there are thus no more moths. This alternative method, although more expensive than the usual treatments, replaces insecticides and enhances biodiversity.
Experimenting with technical and scientific innovations
Agricultural research has made great strides in discovering alternatives to chemical treatments. In order to apply these innovations, experiments should be done in the vineyards. Estates can also take part in various programmes to help reduce and control input products. For instance, Château Larose Trintaudon has abandoned systemic treatments in the vines after participating the Optidose experiment. Developed by the Institut Français du Vin, this consists of calculating the quantity of products in a very precise and targeted way. Château Larose Trintaudon is also part of a work group focusing on biodynamic viticulture, as well as the EcoPhyto 2015 plan that aims to gradually reduce the use of input products.
Responsible winegrowers need to observe their vines constantly. They are aware of the diseases their vines are subject to, and train their employees accordingly.
HVE (Haute Valeur Environnementale, or High Environmental Value) and ISO 14001 certifications guarantee that farmers use chemical input products sustainably and closely monitor their use. The systematic analysis of wines shows to what they have retained residues of chemical inputs.
Degree of spray drift during treatments
The drift of chemical sprays, i.e. when droplets fall outside the targeted treatment area, amounts to a diffuse sort of pollution. This can be due to unfavourable weather conditions (wind, rain, heat, etc.), or defective equipment such as sprayers. It is possible to identify how input products are applied over time by analysing the average spray drift compared to the number of hectares treated.
Volume of plant protection products per hectare
This indicates the total quantity of plant protection products used compared to the estate's surface area in order to obtain volume per hectare. Regularly keeping track of this figure helps to set reduction goals and make comparisons with other estates.
Percentage of agricultural land subject to mating disruption
This shows the effort that farmers make to fight against insect pests organically rather then chemically.
This calls for keeping a close watch on activities that can engender risks of pollution. These risks should be analysed and regularly re-evaluated (please see the "Controlling Risks" section in "Responsible Entrepreneurs). The systematic quest for products that are the least dangerous, most efficient, and most environmentally-friendly should be a constant priority.
Weed control is not an end in itself. Above and beyond enhancing biodiversity, weeds do not have an adverse effect on quality or productivity. That is why Château Larose Trintaudon sets their weed control sights lower every year in order to enhance soil maintenance and reduce the impact of chemicals.
In order to reduce diffuse pollution, it is essential to define regularly-monitored procedures for using plant protection products. Château Larose Trintaudon, for instance, has defined the conditions for using such treatments near public places in conjunction with the town hall of their commune.
A good understanding of the terroir and production facilities, legal regulations, and the impact of agricultural methods is highly useful.
La certification ISO 14001 certification guarantees the estate's taking into account their performance in terms of risk management and preventing environmental pollution. Other certifications such as HVE (Haute Valeur Environnementale, or High Environmental Value) and Terra Vitis® are proof of commitment.
Responsible farmers keep a close watch on their use of chemical weed killers per hectare and compare this with the regional average.
Branches of ADAR (Antenne Décentralisée de la Chambre d'Agriculture de la Gironde, a branch of the Gironde Department Chamber of Agriculture) offers advice regarding the use of phytopharmaceutical products and provides training.
Above and beyond the traditional definition of terroir, what is at stake here is a living, varied, and self-sustaining soil. The duty of responsible farmers is to preserve and perpetuate their terroir, i.e. their means of production, to grow grapes in good condition to make high-quality wine. In order to avoid soil depletion by overly-intensive farming, only methods that respect the land, the vines, and the grapes should be used.
Château Larose Trintaudon plans on ploughing the soil of plots with young vines with horses, a method they already used in the past and which is eminently environmentally-friendly..
In order to make sure of the quality of their vine plants and their growth potential, vine nurseries can be regularly evaluated, as Château Larose Trintaudon does.
Humble and close observers of their surroundings, responsible farmers have the well-being of future generations in mind. They make sure to maintain the soil and tend their vines so that they live a long time under optimum conditions.
(Haute Valeur Environnementale, or High Environmental Value) certification and Terra Vitis®-type certifications prove winegrowers' commitment on behalf of their terroir.
Number and follow-up of individually-replaced vines
Farmers compensate for dead vines by replacing them individually, thereby ensuring the survival of their vineyard.
Local environmental associations as well as interprofessional viticultural and winemaking organisations can offer advice and share experience.