Regenerative agriculture in Bordeaux

Felicity Carter pays Domaine Émile Grelier a visit to see the future of viticulture.

Benoît Vinet, Domaine Émile Grelier
Benoît Vinet, Domaine Émile Grelier

Benoît Vinet flips the rubber mat with his foot. And seems disappointed there’s nothing underneath. For most people, finding something under this mat would be a nightmare – it’s a snake shelter. “No snakes today,” says Vinet, and puts the rubber back. 

This 8ha Merlot vineyard is a haven for nature. There are boxes for birds, tangles of undergrowth for hedgehogs, shady places for bats, and flowers springing between the vines for insects to feed on. It’s thrumming with life.

But when Benoît and his wife Delphine arrived in 2012, there was nothing but a grass field. The transformation of Domaine Émile Grelier, in Lapouyade in Gironde, isn’t just a testament to Vinet’s hard work. It also models the latest scientific thinking about regenerative agriculture, which is beginning to be adopted in Bordeaux.

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