The vineyard has organic farming certification since 2001 and has the Bourgeon Suisse (Swiss organic label) since 2005
If a simple definition of organic farming was needed, it would be: the cultivation of grapevines using only products of organic or mineral origin. This means that no inputs of chemical origin can be used. An organic farmer has a very different idea about what is agriculture compared to a conventional farmer. One could even talk about a « philosophy of organic farming. » Organic farming is primarily based on a deep understanding of soil-environment-cultivated plant interaction. This calls for methods that respect the environment, by those who cultivate the land and the consumers.
The organic farmers’ work is based around prevention since they can not use synthetic chemical products. Therefore, their most important role is to create a favourable environment for the cultivated plant. In order to do this, a thorough knowledge of the environment, the soil and the local climate is essential. Organic farmers do not need to feed their plants, since this is the soil’s role. So, they must ensure that soil life is encouraged as much as possible.
Organic farmers can not use chemical means to fight against pests or weeds. Their approach is based on the fact that in a balanced system, the risk of pest proliferation is limited. In a balanced system, pest population is naturally controlled. This requires two things
- They must encourage biodiversity with hedges, ponds, grass strips, etc.
- They must accept a certain amount of loss related to the balance of this system.
However, the system is a fine balance and the organic farmer must sometimes intervene to save his crop. To determine when it is necessary to act, they must establish their tolerance thresholds (for losses, pest levels, etc.). The vineyards should be regularly checked to see if preventative measures need to be taken. As a last resort a natural curative remedy that is permitted in organic farming can be used.
Clearly, organic farming is not just a question of eliminating chemical inputs. Misconceived conventional farmers who decide to stop using pesticides and chemical fertilisers to become « organic » would be making a mistake.
Organic farming is an holistic approach rather than one just focused on the cultivated plant. Soil is at the heart of this approach. It requires a completely different way of thinking and new farming methods.
From a regulatory point of view, since 2012, organic farming is controlled by new European specifications which determine the permitted inputs both for vine growing and winemaking. Since the 2012 vintage, Organic Wine is recognised as such and can be identified by the new European logo (a leaf with the European stars). The well-known old French AB (Organic Farming) logo can still be used alongside the new logo.
To be able to use the Agriculture Biologique (Organic Farming) Label, all the producers must be certified by an independent body accredited by the Ministry of Agriculture. Château La Caderie has chosen to use ECOCERT since 2001. ECOCERT carries out two checks per year, one for the vines during the growing season, the other for the wine during the winter, after the winemaking. Other random checks may be carried out during the year. Wine may be analysed to check that it does not contain pesticide residues and therefore conforms to the specifications.
François Landais explains why he has opted for organic farming: