Europe’s largest wine estate offers a shining example of resilience to climate change

Thursday December 10 2020 by Vitisphere

 Along with its conversion to organic, Domaine Royal de Jarras has also rolled out disease-resistant grape varieties on a dozen hectares. Along with its conversion to organic, Domaine Royal de Jarras has also rolled out disease-resistant grape varieties on a dozen hectares. - Photo credit : DR

Can 429 hectares of vineyards at Europe’s largest wine estate, Domaine Royal de Jarras in Aigues-Mortes, in the Camargue, be converted to organic? If you listen to Laetitia Carbonell, head viticulturist at the 2,000-hectare Grands Domaines du Littoral, the switch-over is more a formality than a challenge. “We have been certified High Environmental Value (HVE) since 2016 and have always used tillage for the soils. During the three-year organic conversion phase, we simply had to learn to work with contact products only”.

Carbonell has just launched a permanent cover crop trial. “After several small tests on different blocks last year we decided to sow faba beans and clover on a large 12-hectare plot”. Up until now, the estate’s vineyards have been sown with barley at the end of the harvest, “to retain the sand”. 5,000 sheep arrive in December to weed among the vines until spring. Within a few years, Carbonell hopes to completely eliminate tillage. “I would like the cover crops to last at least three years. For the moment I can’t claim victory. It has hardly rained and the cover crops are a bit sparse”.

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