One of the most obviously depressing sights in Burgundy comes around right about now – February-April – when the yellow-orange, dead weeds and grass become visible. It’s a short but annoying window where you can see some very expensive plots of real estate in the raw, treated with herbicide. This view lasts only a few weeks before the offending material is ploughed back into the soil and halos of multiple growers are seemingly restored.
Recently, a small but important step was taken by the Organisme de Gestion of Volnay (ODG) – the winegrowers association – which voted to stop the use of herbicide in their Volnay Premiers Crus. An obvious ‘halfway house‘ of a decision but a welcome one that covers 110 hectares of vines.
This evolution of ‘Volnay specifications’ will now be included in the rules by the INAO, the new specifications could be in place as early as 2024. Such evolutions are rare but absolutely necessary; newly granted AOCs are held to much more rigorous standards than those that have been in place for the last 90 years – for instance also forbidding the use of machine harvesting.
From the press release: “Stopping herbicides seemed obvious to us,” explained Thomas Bouley, current President of ODG Volnay, “Because public and environmental health is at stake. We are fortunate to have an appellation of international renown, with high added value, which allows us to produce in a more ‘proper’ way. In such a favourable economic context (for our wines) our appellation must now, more than ever, be exemplary.“