A practice which is centuries old which has largely been
usurped by newer technologies, horse ploughing has made a huge comeback to
vineyards across France in recent years.
Dean of the Oenology department at the University of
Bordeauxs Institute of Vine and Wine Sciences, Gilles de Revel, said using
draught horses is a strong new trend along with organic winegrowing.
It has grown in practice during the last ten years in
particular, though Bordeaux wine producer Dominique Leandre-Chevalier first
reintroduced horses back in 1985, when he inherited his fathers vineyard. The
vineyard at the Chateau Le Queyroux dates back to 1895, a time when winegrowers
still used horses just like they first did in the 16th century.
After taking the reins at the vineyard, Leandre-Chevalier decided to
reappropriate (his) ancestors know-how. He said that one of the advantages
of using horses rather than tractors is that theres less compacting, so that
the soil is allowed to breathe.
British vintner Fiona Beeston also vouches for the benefits
of using horses for ploughing rather than tractors, calling it a real
discovery. She added that tractors can also damage the roots of the vines with
their vibrations, which shortens the life of the plants.
Currently, however, horses are mostly being used for
vineyards which consist of just a few hectares, though some grand crus are also
embracing using horses for some areas of their vineyards, as the practice is
time-consuming in comparison to using tractors. De Revel described it as a
picture-postcard image, seemingly praising the return of traditional
practices to help create more authentic French wines.
With the practice now taking place in hundreds of vineyards
across the country, you may be able to witness this incredible tradition taking
place near one of our luxury villas in France.
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