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Objective 100% certified
Producing with collectively the utmost respect for the environment is a duty for a famous Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée.
"Progress among everyone involved achieves more than the feats of a few". This is a saying that resonates meaningfully with the people of Champagne, who have always endeavoured to involve 100% of the sector in their continued drive for progress.
A voluntary approach by the Champagne stakeholders
This commitment remains a personal choice. Although the sector supports winegrowers in their approach, it in no way dictates what should be done or what undertakings should be taken. The aim is for each winegrower to commit to a scheme (Sustainable Viticulture in Champagne, High Environmental Value, Organic Agriculture, etc.) in keeping with their own circumstances. The idea is, once again, to be able to bring all the stakeholders on board, because that is what will make a difference!
Progress in terms of environmental certifications in Champagne is very dynamic. Every year, since 2018 (when the ambition was announced), the number of certified areas and vineyards has been on target. Gradually, more and more of the industry’s stakeholders are taking part in this process.
An approach that involves everyone, growers and houses alike!
The cooperative wine cellars and houses are also involved in these initiatives. They provide their member growers with support in their development. This involves guidance, but also due value for the grapes purchased: by being willing to pay more for certified grapes, they directly support the transition to more sustainable viticulture.
This joint commitment is put into practice in several ways:
Setting up Vignes Lab';
Roll-out of several tools to support vineyards: Enviro platform, practical guide, registered centres which can assist with the processes, help in communicating about them, etc.
Les Vignes Lab' are participatory innovation initiatives (their name is a play on the “Living Lab” networks). These groups set out to address technical and environmental issues in viticulture. The Comité Champagne and its partners provide technical support until the project is completed. Once developed, the tool or method is shared with the partners, to be distributed as widely as possible.
There are now 5 Vignes Lab' groups in the Champagne region. Each explores a theme such as:
- Management of Safety Distances from Residents (RSD) with resistant varieties;
- Pooling of hedge planting;
- Development of the pooled audit method to reduce certification costs;
- Collective management of biodiversity;
- Implementation of tools and methods to achieve the "100% certified" target.
This number is likely to change as new groups can be opened, particularly to explore new themes such as carbon neutrality for example.
100% certified by 2030
By 2030, the vineyard aims to secure environmental certification for 100% of its vineyards. In that respect, audits have been conducted since 2014 by an independent organisation.
To date, the results are encouraging: more than 60% of the area under vine is already certified. 25% of production also has ISO 14001 certification, a process aimed at factoring the environment into company management.
Environmental certifications in Champagne in 2022 (area under vine)
A certification tailored to the sector: the Sustainable Viticulture in Champagne (VDC) certification
With excellence constantly in its sights, the Champagne region has developed its own framework for sustainable viticulture, recognised by the Ministry of Agriculture. As with national environmental certifications, an approved independent certification body conducts the vineyard audits and awards the certification.
This is a demanding framework, based on 99 criteria, some of which are taken from the HVE standard but others go further: 59 criteria are specific to the ambitions of the Champagne region.
These criteria are grouped into six major themes:
Plant protection strategy;
Preservation of biodiversity;
Terroir preservation and landscape enhancement;
Responsible management of waste and by-products;
Reducing the carbon footprint.
Certification is acquired in three stages: first, compliance with the regulations, a prerequisite for any certification process. Then, improvement of an estate’s practices, to be eligible for High Environmental Value (HVE) certification. Finally, implementation of actions to meet the requirements specific to Champagne, in addition to HVE certification.