05 July, 2016

Durability

This is one of our vineyards in Loisy-en-Brie.

We have worked here together for more than ten years. Alain on his own much longer.

Many rules
Here in Champagne the way we grow the vines are rather fixed. But within the rules, the many rules, you can still introduce new ways, other features that may, or may not, work better than what you used to do.

So every year, Alain will find something to change to see if it can be done in a smarter way.

Thank you French engineer school :-)

This year the biggest news by far will be what is happening tomorrow.

Certification for durability
We will have an audit to be certified as viticulture durable. It's not yet organic but a nice long step in the direction. And as far as we can move at the moment.

But then again, that quite a step forward. It is only four years ago we gained full control of all vineyards thus only four years ago could we begin the change.

And look the opposite direction.

This is still Loisy-en-Brie. One of our vineyards. Greener than ever.





04 July, 2016

Happy days for weeds


Weeds. We don't really want them in the vineyards.

Mechanical or chemical
There are two solutions: The mechanical solution or the chemical one.

So far we have used chemicals. We had no choice.

However, this year we finally were able to buy the tools needed to work the soils instead.

Difficult to plough
Just about non stop rain has made it a very difficult task to work with the tractor. Since you better avoid heavy material when the soils are wet and soft in order not to compress too much.

This week Alain finally managed to plough some of the plots.

Others still are a great deal greener than we like at the bottom. And once these climbing things reach the vines you need your hands and quite a lot of time.

Well, another monday approaching, we've got weeds for everybody with spare hands.

29 June, 2016

So nice to cut stems: it means no rain


Finally, the tops of the vines have been cut in all plots.

As the stems grow longer, they become quite heavy as well, and the vineyard grows more and more chaotic.

Shorter lengths help to control this otherwise rather uncontrollable growth.


This season the weather has been rather uncontrollable.

Lots and lots of rain has made it rather difficult to find time to do this job.

As you cannot drive the enjambeur tractor in the plots when it's too wet.

There is the risk of sliding.

But even worse, the weight of the machine may compress the soils which anyone would want to avoid.


So we have done other things as we waited for better times, better days.

And less rain.

Well, yesterday was such a day, and now the job is done.


For some time anyway.

In a week's time the next set of stems will have grown longer. And then it will be their turn to have their tops cut.

One of summer's pleasures. Or whatever.

This year it's sort of nice to cut since it means no rain for a little bit of time.

27 June, 2016

Chardonnay between flowers and rain


A crucial stage for Chardonnay and the other grape varieties: The flowering.

We saw the first flowers of the year last week.

Grapes need sun
The weather is rather crucial at this time.

Good conditions - sun, warm temperatures though not too warm and a bit of wind - will determine the amount of grapes.

Well, we are not very optimistic. To be frank with you.

Rain complicates work
This year we have incredibly difficult conditions to work with.

Rain almost every day which makes it very difficult to do a good job in the vineyards as we are dependent on the tractor which cannot be send through when the soils are too wet.

The combination of a very humid air due to the heavy and frequent rain and rather warm weather especially when the sun peeps through helps advancing disease more than grapes.

But... we do what we can. So far, we are quite happy to finally spot flowers.



16 June, 2016

Just before the flowers


Despite the endless rain we endure in Champagne, the grapes do develop.

From small apple-looking green little things a few days ago, we now see them slowly opening here and there.

Each little thing will open to let a flower out.

This is the next crucial step since the flowers must be pollinated for a grape to be developpned.

Some come rain, come shine... we believe, we have seen the rain, now we'd like some shine to finish this nicely.


The first flowers are reported now, we expect to see them in the days to come.

13 June, 2016

Lifting


Another monday morning in Champagne, and what are we up to at the office?

There's always work to do. We tend to choose the tasks that are urgent, the rest can wait.

Like updating the website, work on an idea on how to label future bottles. Find customers for them.

Because rain or shine, shorts or coats, rubber boots morning, midday and afternoon. The vines grow.


And thus we lift the wires.

In fact, we have been lifting the wires all week.

Low wires, high wires. First hook.

The next will follow. Soon enough.



Before we put the agrafe in place, we push the stems a bit to the side to create enough space for the little piece of wood.

Each autumn we collect these to reuse them again until they get weaker and eventually break.


This is the first part of the lifting. Many stems don't yet have the length to reach the upper double wire, and we will have to place it manually.

Because of this we only put one agrafe at this time. Later we will put more, one between each plant to seperate them nicely and make sure that the stems with many grapes are well exposed for the sun.

The low wires stay side by side due to another type of agrafe that looks like white plastic. In fact, it's made of starch, thus it's biodegradable and saves us a round-trip of collection.


Thanks to the lifting the stems stand nicely upright, rather than climb or bend towards the neighbouring lines of vines.

Collegues in other villages have begun to cut the tops of the vines. Soon we will follow.

These ones have the length and the position as well. Due to the lifting.

05 June, 2016

Romance in the vines


Rain and rain and then, you've guessed it, rain again.

These last weeks have been incredibly wet, even for Champagne.

Happy days for snails
Apparently it suits some of us fine.

This couple seems to head towards founding a family.

And it all happened in Loisy-en-Brie this very weekend.

Snails are usually not that big of a problem, but it does depend on the amount of them.


As you can see in the picture, the vineyards are incredibly green at the moment. Unsurprisingly.

Therefore, can we ask for some sun please? Or just, no more rain, to let the soils dry a bit and the weeds grow at a lesser speed.

Lifting the wires
Next week, we should be out there to lift the wires.

A bit late actually, but you can't expect miracles when temperatures have been low for so long.

It's not cold these days. Just grey. However, today the rain has ceased and there are even some spots of blue skies with sun.

So hold your breath, and so do we.

03 June, 2016

Forår i Frankrig med 60 mm regn


Dette er et arkivbillede.

Heldigvis.

Sådan ser det ud i Loisy-en-Brie, når alt for meget vand løber de helt forkerte steder.

Det hedder erosion.

60 millimeter vand hos os
Fra søndag eftermiddag og til tirsdag først på eftermiddagen stod vandet mere eller mindre uafbrudt ned i stænger.

Det har beriget de underjordiske reservoirer med 60 millimeter. Når de engang når derned.

Ganske meget vand på ganske kort tid.

Men vi piver ikke.

Oversvømmelser og ødelæggelser
Vi har ingen oversvømmelser, og dem er der ellers mange af mange andre steder i Nordfrankrig i disse dage.

Se bare her Paris på den våde måde. Louvre holdt lukket for at evakuere kunst fra sale, der kan være i farezonen, hvis vandet stiger igen.

I Château de Chambord, en af Loire-dalens mange juveler, når vandet helt op til slottets fundamenter, og selv det var en af Francois I's idéer med et slot helt omgivet af vand, er der ikke nutidens ønske. Fredag er slottet lukket af samme grund.

Læs mere om ødelæggelser her.

Græs er en hjælp
Hos os altså ingen problemer.

Vi har tidligere haft en del vrøvl med vand, der løb ned igennem visse af vores parceller ved heftigt regnfald.

Denne gang er der græs i rækkerne i parcellerne overfor vores, og det forhindrer vandet i at løbe ned som en springflod.

Det er i øvrigt ikke slut. Der er i øvrigt meldt mere regn.


12 May, 2016

Off goes the surplus buds


Monday morning we began the ebourgeonnage in our plots in Loisy-en-Brie.

A grey morning, but that's fine with us. Rainy days equal not too cold weather equal no frost.

And as this job moves forward we see the damage of the frost of late April. And it may not even be over yet.


Many buds are frozen
Many of the buds in the low part of the vines are frozen.

The final result we will not really know before the time of grapeharvest.

So what are we doing with buds then anyway?

Well, they are not all frozen.


Pink spots on old wood
There are still buds, that develop into branches where we will get grapes at the end of the cycle.


But there are also buds that grow on the old parts of the plant. Buds that develop on wood, that is two years old or more, are not very fertile. We want the plants to deal with important matters, buds that will provide grapes, and thus we just remove the rest.

And those ones, those that create manual work right now. Well, of course they have not frozen. They show like little pink spots on the wood. They are easy to remove. It is just a long job, because you have to check all plants in all lines in all plots.


More trouble
As you work, you get depressed about number of frozen buds.

Plus those that have been eaten by a little insect that lives in the soils under the vineyard. It is called the mange-bourgeon which means the one that eats buds.

This insect bothers us every year, we can see some lines give less grapes, and it is also linked to this.

As long as we can fill our boxes at harvesttime, we live with it.

Frost is worse. And it may not be over yet. More is announced on sunday morning.