Soil is the foundation of the terroir. For an AOC as reputed as Champagne, terroir is a priceless heritage that must be protected for future generations. Its preservation is vital to the continued success of the Champagne industry and the maintenance of brand authenticity.
Protecting the soil against all forms of deterioration is a long-standing preoccupation in Champagne.
Every care is taken to maintain the physical, chemical and biological properties of vineyard soils.
Several initiatives have been taken by the industry to protect and add value to Champagne’s heritage. Examples include:
Field observations confirm that Champagne soils enjoy high biological activity – often higher than the standard for agricultural soils.
Another priority is the conservation and enhancement of the biodiversity and landscapes of the Champagne region – two precious resources that form part of Champagne’s natural heritage and overall brand image. The region is home to numerous areas of special ecological interest, where bio-diversity is maintained by the conservation of natural habitats.
Some of these habitats are to be found in and around the vineyard slopes themselves, proving that sustainable winegrowing practices are perfectly compatible with biodiversity.
The Champagne vineyard landscapes are quite unique – making this region the perfect candidate for inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Great care is taken to ensure eco-friendly working practices that support landscape conservation. The development of organic and sustainable viticulture has been particularly beneficial in this respect. Winery buildings now blend well with their surroundings; and there is a new approach to soil management based on increased cover cropping and a gradual return to wooden trellis posts (better looking and more eco-friendly than modern alternatives).
Since the launching of the BIODIV action plan in 2005, all of the flora indigenous to the Champagne vineyards have been extensively catalogued. The full list includes 356 different varieties of which nine feature on the Champagne-Ardenne Red List of endangered species. The plants are classified on the basis of aesthetic qualities, heritage value and agricultural and ecological interest (as a habitat for beneficial insects). On the basis of these data, the industry has adopted new guidelines aimed at promoting hedgerow planting on the vineyard slopes by providing funding for community-based hedge-planting projects. Pilot schemes are now underway throughout Champagne, aimed at convincing winegrowers of the advantages of hedgerows.
The overall focus here is to improve the agro-ecological infrastructure of the vineyard: cover cropping and establishing hedgerows in vineyards; also groundwater management on slopes, with an eye to solutions that fit harmoniously within the landscape.
A pioneering commitment