Sunday, January 11, 2009

Ploughing by horse

Two years ago Jancis Robinson wrote a very flattering article about my small domaine that ended with the sentence

“He has not yet acquired this season’s must-have accessory among the Côte d’Or’s swelling band of organic and biodynamic wine farmers – a horse – but this is surely not too far away”

I laughed heartily at the absurdity. I have never denied that horse ploughing is the ultimate luxury one can provide for a much-loved vineyard, but I figured I’d never reach the point of being willing to do so much work for that last iota of perfection. Well, fast-forward two years…

…and I have committed to ploughing my parcel of Vosne-Romanée by horse in 2009.

In many ways it is the logical next step in respecting the health of my soils: in 2008 ploughing was the only vineyard task I did by tractor, everything else (including hedging and spraying) was done by hand. By avoiding compaction the soil develops a structure and life that is truly beautiful to observe.

Before Christmas I did a light sous-solage with my friend Oronce de Beler and his magnificent Percheron named Prosper. For those who read French I include a link to the website of photographer Jean-Léo Dugast who recorded the occasion for his blog. For those who don’t read French there are lots of photos!

In 2009 I’ll be ploughing with another friend, working towards the goal of learning this traditional skill myself and applying it to the whole domaine.