In 2017, the technical roadmap implemented at Château Ripeau covering vineyard management and treatments for the whole estate, was executed with no use of herbicides, insecticides, fungicides or metallic copper to combat vine pests and disease.
January 2015 was when the Grégoire family, who had already been property owners and winegrowers for many years, embarked on a new adventure. This was when the family acquired Château Ripeau, a Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classé since 1955, and neighbour of several highly reputed estates.
Julien Salles joined Cyrille and Nicolas Grégoire as Director of Operations in September 2015. A whole new winegrowing strategy began as Julien Salles arrived. For several years, he had been working with Guillaume Grocq, a pioneer in the use of biological pest control, biostimulant and biotonic products, on setting up a programme to protect vines, which reduces or even eliminates the reliance on chemicals, replacing them with alternative products that exert no impact on health or the environment.
At Château Ripeau, this stretch objective has also been achieved by meticulous vineyard husbandry, which requires active involvement at every step in the growth cycle :
Careful tilling partly with horse-drawn equipment to eliminate the use of glyphosate and all other herbicides.
Implementing alternative techniques such as mating disruption to avoid the use of insecticides.
Thorough preventive work throughout the growth cycle right up to the harvest to ensure the fruit is ripe and disease-free.
Controlled additions of strictly organic soil conditioners derived from plant and/or animal ingredients to improve the structure and constituents of the earth.
Installation of a weather station on the property to gain more accuracy in deciding the best time to apply treatments against vine disease and pests, and in optimising spraying equipment.
All these good practices enabled us to protect our vines effectively using alternative methods, despite the challenging weather conditions we faced in 2017. The vines’ vigor had been taxed by spring frosts, high temperatures in June, increased humidity and rain during the summer, as well as year-long weather conditions that increased the risk of disease outbreak.
The way we changed the practices at Château Ripeau for the entire vineyard, demonstrates that it is possible to: Maintain quantity and quality in production.
Take care of the health and safety of people: those living or working on the estate, neighbors, schools, children, and persons at risk.
To take into account and protect as far as possible all media – air, soil, water – as well as the fauna and flora.
To reduce the impact of certain regulatory constraints: REI (Re-Entry Intervals), PHI (Pre-Harvest Intervals) and buffer zones.
To significantly simplify PPE (Personal Protection Equipment).
To meet consumers’ expectations of a finished product that contains no pesticide residues, and with regard to lessening the impact on people and the environment.
To adapt this alternative cultivation approach to all types of the agricultural unit so as to comply with or surpass political requirements to reduce the use of chemicals (C.f. the Ecophyto 2025 plan in France) on farms, thereby addressing the concerns of everyone with regard to agriculture and the protection of health and the environment.
In 2017, Château Ripeau achieved an Herbicide Treatment Frequency Index (TFI) of 0, an Insecticide TFI of 0, a Fungicide TFI of 0 and a Biological Pest Control TFI of less than 10.
Just 1.3 kg per hectare of copper was applied in 2017 as a trace element in a nutrient form that is directly assimilated by the vines and soil. No copper was used in the metallic form.
6 kg of metallic copper per hectare per year for 5 years are permitted today by organic agriculture standards.
3 kg of metallic copper per hectare per year for 5 years are permitted today by Demeter Biodynamic Certification standards.
Petiole analysis at Château Ripeau :
Findings of the Excell laboratory dated 16th October 2017: “No molecule in the very extended Phytocheck list was detected”.
Analysis of Château Ripeau wines :
Laboratoire EXCELL October 27th, 2017:
Findings of the Excell laboratory dated 27th October 2017: “No residue in the extended Phytocheck list certi ed by COFRAC was detected”.
* TFI: the phytosanitary Treatment Frequency Index is an indicator that measures pesticide use. TFI counts the number of standard doses applied per hectare during a growing season. e indicator can be calculated for a group of plots, a farm or an area. TFI enables a farmer to measure his/her progress in reducing the use of pesticides. It also enables him/her to compare his/her practices with the average for the area and to identify possible improvements.
At Château Ripeau, this approach is part of an ambitious overall vision.
“MAKING CHÂTEAU RIPEAU A GREAT WINE
IS JUST DOING JUSTICE TO THIS AMAZING TERROIR
WHICH IS WORTHY OF BEING ONE OF THE GREATEST.
WE CAN’T WAIT TO BUILD A BEAUTIFUL NEW SETTING FOR RIPEAU, CAN’T WAIT TO TRANSFORM IT,
CAN’T WAIT TO EXTRACT THE MAGNIFICENT PROMISE FROM ITS SOIL”
Cyrille & Nicolas Grégoire
TFI: the phytosanitary Treatment Frequency Index is an indicator that measures pesticide use. TFI accounts for the number of standard doses applied per hectare during a growing season. The indicator can be calculated for a group of plots, a farm or an area. TFI enables a farmer to measure his/her progress in reducing the use of pesticides. It also enables him/her to compare his/her practices with the average for the area and to identify possible improvements.
BIOLOGICAL PEST CONTROL is a range of methods to protect plants by using natural mechanisms. Used alone or in combination with other protective methods, these techniques are based on the mechanisms and interactions that govern relationships between species in the natural environment. The principle behind biological control is one of the managing balances of pest populations, rather than seeking to eradicate them. Biological control products are authorized for use after an extensive assessment of the risks they entail for human and animal health and the environment. They are characterized by being natural or by involving modes of action that are based on natural mechanisms. (French Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry)
BIOSTIMULANTS are defined as substances and/or micro-organisms, whose function when applied to plants or the rhizosphere is to stimulate natural processes to enhance/benefit nutrient uptake, nutrient efficiency, tolerance to abiotic stress, and crop quality and yields, independently of the presence of nutrients (EBIC).
BIOTONIC refers to material, which contains substance(s) and/or micro-organism(s) that optimise plant organ and tissue function when applied to the plant or rhizosphere. Functions that benefit include foliar turgescence, photosynthesis, reproduction and interactions with the environment.