Tiffany, tell us about yourself. What has been your journey so far?
I started my studies in tourism, in the South of France. After my BTS, I went abroad for three and a half years to travel. And it was in Australia in particular that I discovered viticulture. Returning to France, I decided to enroll in BTS Viticulture-Oenology in Beaune. It’s a one-year work-study program. At the Château, I have been on an apprenticeship contract since last August..
Were you already familiar with the principles of biodynamics before joining the Château?
More than biodynamics, I was mostly familiar with permaculture, thanks to my experience abroad. These two types of culture are very similar: they are the same principles. In addition, I am someone naturally interested in ecology. So it was really important for me to work for an area that respects the cycles of nature, be it in organic farming or downright biodynamic. These are things that fascinate me, including the interest in the cosmos. In recent months, I have learned a lot about the principles of biodynamics thanks to my experience in Clos Marey-Monge and thanks to the vines team.
How would you sum up biodynamics in a few words, for the less knowledgeable?
Biodynamic is a whole: we must take into account all the products that we put in the vineyard, which must be completely natural, without any chemical input or phytosanitary product. These products work in harmony with the soils, animals, and insects in nature. Biodynamics is also a work carried out according to the moon, whether it is rising or falling, full or new, and the constellations. For my part, I work with Maria Thun's calendar in which we find different days - fruits, leaves, flowers, and roots. Depending on the day, and taking into account the cycle of the Moon and the constellations, we will tend to a specific part of the vine.
Are there any particularities in the application of the principles of biodynamics throughout the Clos Marey-Monge?
Tiffany: The Clos in itself is already a huge advantage for biodynamic farming because there is a real separation from the other plots nearby, some of which can be conventionally cultivated. The Clos protects and gives us the possibility of carrying out all of our interventions without worrying about neighboring actions that are more polluting. In addition, we are starting to benefit from real biodiversity with the trees within the Clos, the low walls that protect the different inhabitants of the vineyards - animals, insects... and this year there are many! Each animal allows us to find where we are in the life cycle of the vine and the vineyard in general. For example, the numerous cicadas here now are signs of the presence of second-generation grape worms, which are caterpillars that perforate the grapes--so we have to be extremely careful.
How will you react in this specific case?
For the moment, we haven’t been impacted too much by the caterpillars. We do not yet consider them a problem-but we must remain vigilant and continue to observe the signs given by Nature. If it becomes significant, we could for example populate the Clos with plants to attract these worms away from the grape clusters.
Tell us about the conversion of Clos Marey-Monge. Where are we in this process?
We are quite well advanced at the moment. The process started in 2016 for the whole Clos, according to the Demeter specifications, since this is the label that we decided to follow. It’s probably the most rigorous of all. The process begins with five years in biodynamic viticulture, with regular checks. In 2021, we should, therefore, obtain the Demeter label.
What are the next steps towards biodynamics?
To obtain the label, of course. The hardest part has already been done, so we must continue what has been undertaken. For my part, I would like to put in place certain measures to make us more independent. In particular, collaborate with Oracle & Jardin to plant enough to make our own herbal teas and our own preparations for the vines. We are also in the process of coordinating with other biodynamic winegrowers in the area to plant our dung horns together. I would like to create a network of committed and mutually supportive winegrowers, which is also biodynamics: the connection between man, earth, and people between them.
Do you work in close relation with Eric and Emmanuel at the winery?
The interest of biodynamics is first of all to have grapes which are the highest quality possible to have the least possible inputs during fermentation. So we work very closely together. Both are passionate and excited. I always turn to them when I need advice. They have mastered the subject of biodynamics very well. For example, we work with indigenous yeasts so that we don't have to add yeasts to the vats. So we find the yeasts directly on the dandruff of the grapes, which is called bloom. These yeasts and the grapes themselves must be as healthy as possible to avoid adding additional yeast in the winery.
How is the season going this year?
It’s still a bit early to say, but we’ve got a great year ahead of us so far. The vegetation is growing particularly well. We already have a lot of grapes, and they are wonderful.
Are you going to take special measures before the harvest?
At the beginning of July, we are going to make a decoction of horsetail to prevent mildew. Two weeks before the harvest, we are going to prepare a silica treatment. At this time in the season, this will allow good development of dandruff, to have beefier grapes, and to shift the maturity of the sugars in the berry. We will surely complement this with a dandelion herbal tea. We will adjust according to the weather because biodynamics also relies on specific times to implement certain measures, sometimes even specific hours.