The Journal

Animal-Drawn Viticulture in our Grands Crus Classés

Since the beginning of agriculture, domestic animals have always been considered as one of the most helpful support to men’s work. From basic tools, men have developed more and more sophisticated animal-drawn machines dedicated to agriculture.

The beginning of the 20th century is considered as the golden age for animal-drawn machines, in terms of machines and animal performances, as well as the number of animals dedicated to it: 4 millions in France, and more than 20 millions in the USA.

Both increase of motorized engines and first and second world wars have led to the abandon of animal traction. Only a few people then kept this tradition to be transmitted to future generations.

For more than 10 years, horses and ox have worked 6 to 7 hours per day in our vineyard, from March to November. They work more than 9000 hours per year in the vineyards. During winter, they work in the forests, for logs longshoring.

In our vineyards, horses and ox work at different operations:

At Château Pape Clement, for:

- Removing or replacing soil around vines’ logs

- Mowing the grass between the rows

- Topping the vines

- Removing or replacing soil around vines’ logs

- Weeding around vines’ logs

For all these operation we use dedicated tools, specially developed by our technical teams

Bernard MagrezWhat are the benefits? Here are just a few:

- Avoiding precious and fragile soil compacting, preventing vines’ roots from asphyxia

- Reducing use of engines to reduce noise pollution (Pape Clément is in the middle of the city)

- Reducing fuel consumption to reduce air pollution

- Working with an extraordinary precision (compared to engines)

- Working in hard working conditions for engines: after heavy rain, engines can’t work in the vineyards, or they risk getting stuck. Horses and ox are adapted to work in such challenging condition

We’ve developed innovative tools for our vineyard workers, and the next time you visit our domains, you’ll certainly have the opportunity to see our oxen, Marel and Blanque, and our horses, Jenny, Quinoa, Unique and Ventch, working in the vineyards!

This article is published in the section #L'Art du vin
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