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Renewal in the vineyards

New plantations on 13 hectares

  Château de Pierreux  ǀ Summer  2014

Continuing the work which has been accomplished in 2009, 2010 and 2011 over four hectares, a further 13 of the Château de Pierreux’s 93 hectares were replanted in one go last April.
The objective for Pierreux is to qualitatively restructure the whole of the estate and bring out the best of its Brouilly terroir. For the Château, it is a question for its future: how best to renew the vineyards with a view to converting the estate to organic production?

These new plantations have been carried out two years after pulling up the old vines which, aged 50-80 years, were starting to show signs of weakness. This break is necessary to allow the soil to regenerate and to prepare it for the new plants.

The terrain was scarified (surface scratched) during the summer of 2012 just after pulling up, then drained in order to improve the soil which was waterlogged due to heavy rain in 2012. In March that year, it was turned over to aerate it ahead of planting.

The 13 hectares were planted by hand by a team of seven professional planters who worked flat-out from April to May, covering up to one hectare per day.

These new Gamay vines will be pruned in a single cordon, trained quite high at 1.8m (6 feet) from the ground instead of the usual 1m to improve aeration of the foliage, the health of the harvest, and the ripeness of the grapes. The rows were planted 2m apart, with 80cm between each vine along the row to facilitate working on the vine. This spacing allows for a small winegrower’s tractor to pass between the rows to plow the soil and weed around the young vines, and thereby avoid using weed killer.

Some of the plots were watered to ensure the young grafts bedded in well, despite the spring drought in the Beaujolais. At present, Alain Dugoujard, head of growing at the Château de Pierreux is monitoring these young vines, awaiting the first harvests in 2017. Until then, the young shoots will enjoy careful nurturing, with the soil being scratched up to avoid evaporation, and mechanical weeding.