We pay meticulous attention when choosing our packaging supplies (glass, cardboard, etc.). We work with manufacturers committed to making environmentally-friendly products which meet the highest ecological standards. By optimising raw materials, our cardboard packaging is now more compact, with 30% reduced thickness since 2016. The benefits are significant: less transportation and improved storage, without compromising on strength.
Making a fine wine such as a Château Couhins-Lurton involves meeting numerous standards, particularly with regard to hygiene procedures, which demand substantial quantities of water. The waste water produced from winemaking operations can constitute a major source of organic pollution, especially during the harvest. Thankfully, we became aware of this issue early on and built a water treatment plant at Couhins-Lurton in 2002 to treat waste water resulting from our various cleaning operations. We installed this facility (with a capacity of 250 hl x 3 vats) underground to treat the water with the utmost discretion while preserving the estate’s natural heritage. It is managed by an employee dedicated to this function.
In light of growing concern over climate change in recent years, we realised that it was necessary to improve our water resource management. We implemented several ecological measures to save water, not only in our cellars, but also in the washing areas for winegrowing equipment. For instance, we installed submeters and carry out monthly readings to check for leakages and monitor water consumption.
We also encourage all our employees to save water and organise regular training on equipment use. Everyone is required to get on board to help reduce water consumption on a daily basis, particularly during busy periods such as the harvest.
All of our interns and seasonal workers are informed about our environmental, health, and safety standards when they first join the company (via welcome guides, displays, etc.). Trained staff are enlisted to present our HSE best practices. These training programmes help us avoid the mishandling of equipment and improve working conditions for all employees.
The entire Couhins-Lurton vineyard is ploughed by hand. Ploughing, screefing and harrowing, among other practices, ensure natural weed control. These traditional methods also guarantee very good soil aeration, which helps promote microbial life in the soil while preserving the terroir, and therefore guarantee the production of high-quality wines. Other benefits include deep rooting and good drainage for the vines.
In order to preserve our vineyard soils and ecosystems, as well as employee health and safety, we have decided to implement strategies to reduce vineyard spraying. We limit chemical input products wherever possible, using the lowest optimal doses, carefully calculated and timed depending on the leaf canopy and the weather. At the same time, we have improved our viticultural equipment (including new tractors for ploughing soil and more efficient and adjustable crop sprayers for more precise treatment).
Protecting the environment involves safeguarding our health as well as the future. Traditional green pruning is one alternative to chemical input products, which presents many advantages. De-suckering, for instance, provides ventilation to the fruiting zone, thus reducing the risk of pests and fungal diseases, as well as the mildew threat. Topping the vines has the same effect, while leaf thinning (removal of leaves around the bunches) helps to prevent grey rot. Emphasis is placed on traditional methods which have proven effective in the vineyard for centuries.
Since herbicides are no longer used at the Couhins-Lurton estate, we have implemented two alternative solutions to eliminating weeds, including: mechanical weed control inside plots and permanent crop cover around them (at the end of each row where tractors and other farming machinery manoeuvre, on the edge of plots, along ditches and embankments, near woodland, and, where appropriate, in areas where the soil is more fragile, either due to its intrinsic characteristics or erosion). These crop covers act as biodiversity reserves (with the presence of arthropods), conducive to the development of auxiliary fauna.
In order to tackle grape caterpillars (Lobesia botrana and Eupoecilia ambiguella), we have implemented a technique known as mating disruption over the past several years. This consists in saturating certain plot areas with female pheromones (of synthetic origin and which reproduce female hormonal scents, specific to each species), to make it difficult for the males to find females to mate. This solution has several advantages: it is respectful of auxiliary fauna and the environment, is non-toxic for winegrowers, and does not leave residue on the berries.
Nature provides grape growers with precious, remarkable helpers, known as crop “auxiliaries” which help to limit the spread and effects of certain pests. Our vineyards thus serve as biodiversity reserves for fauna, mainly birds (blackbirds, tits, thrushes, woodpeckers, etc.), which consume large quantities of insect pests (grape worms, leaf hoppers, ants, and leaf rollers). Smaller and more discreet auxiliaries are just as effective at combating pests and protecting vines. Lacewings (more poetically known as golden-eyed damselflies), ladybirds, hover flies, and earwigs, as well as harvestmen and other spiders are also winegrowers’ friends, as they eat a lot of pest larvae. Stink bugs not only have a direct impact on regulating pest populations, but may also have an effect on weed development. Recently, we have observed the return of the bees and an increase in the worm population, which suggest that the soil is rich and functioning properly – when the terroir is healthy, the grapes express its full potential. We do everything possible to preserve these various species.
In keeping with our sustainable development policy, we have undertaken measures not only to maintain existing faunal biodiversity in the vineyard, but also to the arrival of new species. Since birds account for the vineyard’s main crop auxiliaries, they receive special attention, including different types of wooden nesting boxes, whereby the size and shape are adapted to various types of passerines (blackbirds, tits, robins, etc.).
At the same time, insect hotels have been installed in the estate’s grounds. These act as nesting and wintering areas for auxiliary insects such as lacewings, ladybirds, and stink bugs… Nesting boxes for wild bees have also been set up in the vineyards.
In keeping with our never-ending quest to promote biodiversity, we have begun planting hedgerows around the vineyard. To date, over 400 metres of hedges have been planted, with a focus on maintaining diversity and native species (hawthorns, medlars, blackthorns, etc.). The Couhins-Lurton estate grounds, designed in the 19th century by landscape artist Louis Le Breton, feature a wide variety of trees (black alders, copper beeches, green oaks, palm trees, and crape myrtles, and a remarkable bald cypress), and all serve as historical testimonies to the original design while providing ideal hiding places for crop auxiliaries. Today, the vineyard’s path is lined with around thirty lime trees, planted in 2002, which have become a refuge for a wide variety of arthropods and heteropterans (“firebugs”).
Reflecting our ambition to limit our environmental footprint, we have implemented a waste sorting system throughout the estate in recent years. This has been made possible thanks to staff training at all company levels, in the vineyards and cellars, as well as in offices and workshops. All our employees are committed to implementing the new policies. At the same time, we established specifications with our suppliers in order to limit the amount of waste and facilitate recycling through approved channels. Today, our engine oils, aerosols and cartridges used for tractor maintenance are recycled by SEVIA, a waste management company which has supported us in our sustainability objectives for several years.
Managing viticultural wastewater remains one of our main priorities, in keeping with our aim to preserve the environment. We focus on ensuring that our employees work in a safe, clean, and pleasant environment, for the well-being of everyone (people on-site, our neighbours and, of course, our clients). We have set up washing areas for tractors in order to more rigorously monitor and safeguard processes.
Following the example of Vignobles André Lurton management, all Château Couhins-Lurton employees are aware of the need to preserve the environment to achieve sustainable winegrowing. In order to raise awareness of this issue, we organise employee meetings to assess our current impact on the environment and promote the best ecological practices, taking stock of what we are already doing and identifying ways to progress.
For several years now, we are no longer allowed to burn old vines outdoors. At the same time, since they are very difficult to crush, old vines are not accepted at waste disposal sites and an alternative solution was therefore needed. Thanks to the impetus of the CIVB (Bordeaux Wine Council), the ECOCEP local recycling program was implemented in 2015 to produce energy from vineyard by-products.
Within the framework of our Environmental Management System, the VEOLIA company has been collecting and recycling these by-products since 2016. Our old vines are thus transformed into pellets for heating boilers and other wood-burning stoves.
Alongside native flora, planting flower strips (auxiliary fallow land), on the borders of vineyard plots presents numerous advantages:
– rapid soil cover reduces soil erosion through improved drainage.
– herbaceous plants provide shelter for birds, small mammals and other auxiliary insects (thus enabling natural pest control).
– flowers help make the vineyard landscape even more beautiful.