Monday, 13 April 2015
Sancerre: sad to see vineyards 100% blitzed with weedkiller
A steep sloped vineyard in Sancerre on way to Chavignol
(above and below)
Although there have been big changes in many of Sancerre's vineyards over the past 15 or more years it is still sad to see too many vineyards are still given the 100% blitzed by weedkiller treatment leaving a destroyed ecosystem and no life apart from vines.
Undoubtedly the very steep slopes and often thin soils in many parts of Sancerre pose a real challenge for weed and grass control. Grassing over the vineyards may provide too much competition for the vines, while driving a tractor and ploughing/harrowing the soil on a very steep slope is a real test of nerve and skill. Furthermore working the soil can encourage erosion. However, the increased risk of erosion is one of the disadvantages of 100% erosion.
Sancerre can sometimes get very heavy rain. I well remember a storm with torrential early one August a number of years back which brought so much soild down that the road between Saint-Satur and Chavignol was blocked by a substantial mudslide and many cellars were flooded with mud. Vineyards that have been blitzed with weedkiller have nothing to impede the flow of rainwater, especially if the soil has been compacted by tractors. Only the remaining prunings in the vineyard shown could impede the flow of water.
Given the commercial success of Sancerre there is no excuse for blitzing the vines here unlike in Touraine where the case can be made that it is uneconomic for a producer who sells to a négociant or is a member of a Cave Co-operative to do anything else but to use weedkiller on 100% of the vineyard.
Live vineyard – dead vineyard
April 2015: blitzed vines in Saint Georges sur Cher
sadly where due to low prices some producers
may have little choice