The vineyard is managed on an "integrated production" basis, a comprehensive approach that aims to preserve the soil's natural life and reduce treatments.
Traditional soil maintenance
We are particularly attentive to the quality and life of the soil, which determine the soil/plant balance. We work the soil using the traditional four stage method*, which respects the soil and encourages microbial life in the ground. We aim to provide balanced nutrition with our fertilisers, thereby avoiding excessive growth that could be detrimental to the concentration of our grapes. *Two ploughings of the soil into mounds around the base of the vines and two ploughings returning the soil to the space between the vines, complemented by manual removal of the soil around the base of the vines and manual maintenance of the spaces between rows.
Rationalized applications of fertilizer
The choice of the nutrients applied to the vines is a very complex issue. We aim to achieve a balance close to deficiency without exceeding the limit determined by the plant. Each year, we therefore return to the soil the precise quantities of organic matter that have disappeared during mineralization.
Choice of fertilizer
Fertilizers are chosen in accordance with their environmental impact, measured by new methods based on life cycle analysis. We compost all of the property's organic residues (cuttings from pruning, stalks, grass cuttings from green spaces, etc. ) and reincorporate them into the vineyard
Integrated protection of the vineyard: towards "zero residue"
We have an integrated protection strategy against vine diseases that relies on a simple principle: take action as early as possible to reduce the growth of parasites and then use the right preventive product at the right time. We call it "integrated" because it combines all the available means: natural regulation methods, biological agents, cultivation techniques and the rationalized use of treatments. Inra's research on vineyard parasites and their natural regulators has enabled us target our actions more accurately and to moderate the number of times our tractors have to pass between the rows of vines. We therefore not only reduce the treatments but also the compacting of the soil and CO2 emissions.
Decision rules The application of phytosanitary products is rationalized with a system of decision rules which takes into account the evolution of symptoms (tolerance threshold), climate parameters and the vines' growth stage
It was at Couhins that the mating disruption method for grape worms was developed. This parasite perforates the grape berries. The technique aims to use biological means to disturb the reproduction of the butterflies that produce the worms by diffusing an identical substance (pheromone) to that emitted by the female butterflies.
In 2010, Château Couhins joined a pilot group of wine producing properties in Bordeaux whose objective is to demonstrate the value and feasibility of the EMS approach. An EMS is a management tool that aims to reduce an organization's environmental impact. It is based on the principle of continuous improvement. Put simply, the operation evaluates the impact of its activities on the environment, sets goals and gradually reduces this impact on a long-term basis. In concrete terms, this concerns energy consumption, the sorting and recycling of waste, inputs, pest control methods, growing techniques, the protection of employees' health and that of local residents and consumers, the improvement of employees' working conditions and, of course, the integration of certain good practices.