Château Haut Garrigue Vignoble Feely

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caroline@hautgarrigue.com
Tel: +33(0)553 227271

Caroline & Seán Feely
Château Haut Garrigue
24240 Saussignac France

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    Haut Garrigue, Vignoble Feely:
    Sentez, Vivez , Rêvez
    ~ Feel, Live, Dream

  • Biodynamics, Nature at Garrigue & the Organic Vineyard Walking Route

    One of our purple orchids Click the text to jump to the section:
  • What is Biodynamics?
  • Biodynamics & you: our Biodynamic Diary for you to try at home
  • For wine anoraks: the details on our biodynamic work in the vineyard and winery
  • Nature at Garrigue: organic vineyards explode with biodiversity
  • The Rando Apero Organic Vineyard Walking Route


    What is Biodynamics?

    Biodynamics is a holistic farming method that uses two main tools; working in harmony with the calendar of the earth's movements in relation to the moon and other cosmic bodies; and homeopathic style preparations to aid the plant to grow and protect itself.

    Sounds like dancing with the fairies? I was a sceptic until I saw what a difference it made to our vineyard and to our wines.

    A few words on each of the tools:

  • The Biodynamic Calendar: This plots the movements of the earth, moon and other planets indicating the best times to do things in the garden. I encourage you to experiment; try it in your garden or taste your favourite (ideally biodynamic)wine on a fruit day then on a root day to see the difference. You can get your own calendar Maria Thun Biodynamic Calendar on Amazon.co.uk.

  • The Preparations: These include the core 500 and 501 preparations and a myriad other plant based teas and extracts for helping plants to help themselves. We love nettle, willow and horsetail. For more detail on this read the wine anorak section.

    To be truly biodynamic a vineyard should be part of a whole farm system and be able nourish itself with enough mixed farming to meet its fertility needs (we need a herd of cows).

    Photos in and around our biodynamic potager Photos in and around our biodynamic potager Photos in and around our biodynamic potager Photos in and around our biodynamic potager

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    Biodynamics & you: our biodynamic diary

    Ever had that moment where you taste a wine you loved last week and it's lost its shimmer? It's probably a leaf day. But all is not lost on leaf days - I love the fennel element that is reinforced in our La Source on leaf days. 25 Dec 2009 was a leaf day and our La Source 2007's fennel came to the fore so much that a friend who was knew nothing about my fennel prediction and Biodynamics said "Wow - there's loads of liquorice that I never noticed before on this wine". Amazing.

    Take four bottles of your favourite Haut Garrigue wine (the same vintage and wine type: ideally from 2007 or later since this is when we started biodynamics) and taste it on:

  • a fruit day
  • a flower day
  • a root day
  • a leaf day

    Fortunately this Christmas day and Stephen's are fruit days so you can look forward to great fruit flavours in your wines. New years eve and day are flower days which will also be great for the aromas on our white wines and sparkling look out for orange blossom on the whites and violets on the reds... We are not the only ones that have gone lunar even Marks and Spencer think its important enough to only organise their tastings on fruit or flower days. Make your notes on each of the days. Some of the elements you will find:

  • fruit flavours are reinforced on fruit days
  • flower notes are more obvious on flower days: for example, elderflower on our sauvignon blanc
  • herbaceous notes are reinforced on leaf days. For example garrigue herbs on our sem sauv; the grassy, asparagus elements of our sauv blanc; the fennel on our la Source 2007
  • tannins and earthy notes are more obvious on root days

    Send us your experiences: we'd love to hear from you. If you are interested in learning more about biodynamics come and visit us to do a class or tour on how it works. Our classes and tours can be found at French Wine Adventures.


    For wine anoraks: the details on our biodynamic work in the vineyard and winery

    We do the work in the vineyard and winery ourselves so we know our vines and wines intimately. We do much work by hand and as close to the lunar calendar recommendations as possible (see above). Sean prunes mostly when the moon is descending and privileges our top-end parcels with pruning them on fruit days.

    We find tying down the canes in early Spring works well during periods of a rising moon: no broken canes. We work the soil with various cultivators and ploughs and follow the lunar calendar very closely in timing soil cultivation as we believe this, along with the biodynamic preparations and teas have had a tangible impact on our soil life - more earthworms, better humus formation, no erosion and great earthy odours. Sean sprays the dynamised 500 and 501 preparations. We make compost from cow manure and pressed grapes.

    We seek to keep our vines in equilibrium during the growing season and ameliorate negative conditions with herbal teas and infusions. We use stinging nettle, willow and horsetail teas and infusions each time we spray against mildew and odium. If this sounds like mumbo jumbo to you, consider the proof: in each of the last two years of high mildew pressure, we used an average of 3kg of copper per hectare compared with the organic maximum of 6kg, the average around us was more like 8kg and we didn't have any mildew! In 2009 that reduced further to a mere 1,4kg per ha of copper. We are experimenting with sage infusions now in a quest to one day eliminate copper (a holy grail for bio vignerons). Sean sprays horn silica early morning to aid grape ripening.

    We harvest early in the morning on fruit days. Our top-end wines we harvest by hand. For most of our production, we hire new high-tech harvest machines which are quite gentle on the vines and are also advantageous for bringing in the grapes cleanly at propitious times. In the winery, we aim to do much of the key vinification work on fruit days and sometimes the wine cooperates by finishing its fermentation on the requisite day. For lees stirring in vats and barriques, we use fruit days and some flower days for the white wines. Sean finds racking barriques works well at times of the descending moon and when atmospheric pressure is low. We bottle on fruit days. We use low sulphur dioxide doses as it masks all the effort you've put into unlocking the individuality of the vines' flavours.

    We observe our vines, soils, and constellations so that we understand how and why to apply biodynamic practices rather than just follow a recipe or a certification checklist.


    Nature at Garrigue

    A bee orchid For the first time rare orchids made an appearance in our vines in 2008. After three years of working with organic practices & biodiversity returned. We pick wild fennel, garlic & salads from between the rows. If you are going to drink the wines from these vines we think it should be safe for us to eat under them!

    But it's not just for us. Biodiversity means a better environment for all the plants and creatures that share our farm. For us its not just for cute communication, high biodiversity = less disease and far less chance of an insect infestation. A balanced environment means that we have a large and healthy population of the good insects that eat the insects that can cause problems in the vineyard. A bird's egg laid in the crook of one of our 60 year old semillon vines A frog - creatures very sensitive to chemical residues in their water supply A deer in Hillside Vineyard The delicate star flower

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    The Rando Apero - organic vineyard walking route at Garrigue

    Discovery on the Rando Apero Nature Trail with Aperitifs: Come to Chateau Haut Garrigue to experience a magic walk that includes snacks, wine & activities. A vineyard activity that is fun for families or friends. €10 per adult/ €5 per child. To use this marked walking route on our private vineyard please reserve ahead and sign in at the tasting room.

    The Rando Apero offers a magic self- guided discovery walk of an organic vineyard. Take a relaxed stroll, settle down in the shade, discover what being organic and biodynamic means, read poetry, sketch, play...

    In our apero pack you will find: your choice of wine, aperitifs (olives, crisps), water, fruit juice, a sketch pad, pencils & crayons, a book of poetry, a pack of cards, a wine game to test your knowledge and get the creative juices flowing, wine glasses, a bottle opener & a picnic blanket. The easy circular route is 1,5km.

    Rando Apero 'We spent over 2 hours on a 1.5Km walk which tells you we really enjoyed the experience. The pack with all the goodies and ideas of what to do en route was first class,' Glyn Taylor and friends

    Our generous and creative visitors also contribute to Haut Garrigue poetry (please send us yours too):

    "Chateau, Sentinel over her terroir
    Chains of dripping gems falling away
    Gnarled anchors seeking dry earth for life
    Sun-kissed crowns guarding their bounty
    Reaching high and tumbling around; a boisterous toddler
    More friends seeding around and enriching the organic row
    Ripening treasures for our pleasure

    Liz Taylor


    Les Sentiers du Vin Bio/ The Organic Vineyard Route 2009

    Nature and Wine Walking Trail Grand operning walk: proposed by 3 artisan winemakers in Saussignac

    Just over one hour’s drive from Bordeaux city and forty minutes from St Emilion lies the pocket-sized wine appellation of Saussignac, a commune within the greater Bergerac wine region. The organic vineyard route project has been initiated by three organic winegrowers in the commune. On Sunday June 14th these winegrowers offer a day of discovery and fun walking the organic vineyard route of Saussignac. On the route these passionate winemakers will explore the themes of organic farming, biodynamic farming and biodiversity. Participants will have the opportunity to enjoy an organic picnic in the garden of Chateau Maurigne near Razac de Saussignac. Guests will have the opportunity to taste and buy wines from the vineyards visited. The days starts at 9.30am at Chateau Haut Garrigue in Saussignac (900m from the village - email caroline@hautgarrigue.com for a map) and finishes after the picnic or at 5pm for those who wish to continue with the second half of the day. For english speaking participants a translation at each of the stops will be provided.

    Sean talks about biodynamics If you can’t make the 14 June, there are more opportunities to discover our organic walks. The walks will be marked and accessible to chateau visitors. During the summer from 9 July- 27 August every Thursday afternoon from 4pm visitors can reserve a guided walk with any of the participating estates. The three winegrowers will also offer two other organised group walks in the summer: Thursday 23 July 2009 & Thursday 6 August 2009. These will be mornings only with tasting at the end of the walk and picnicing possible at the vineyard.

    Saussignac is a dessert wine appellation famous for its vinous bounty since medieval times when Rabelais, a renowned French writer penned his perspective on it. Approximately half of the winegrowing members of the Saussignac Producers Union are either organic or in conversion to organic. This sets a stark contrast to the national average for France of around 3% of wine growers. For locals and tourists seeking a nature friendly vineyard and wine route it presents the ideal place. The producers in the commune of Saussignac also make fine white, rosé and red wines under the greater Bergerac appellation. Along with great wines, a range of excellent accommodation can be found in the area.

    This organic vineyard route is an occasion people to discover nature, organic practices and the riches of Saussignac, her people, landscape, architecture and wines. The walking routes are exceptional in their beauty and diversity. The routes offer breathtaking views over the Dordogne Valley and a varied landscape of vines, woods and meadows. They are also rich in architecture with an array of noteworthy castles, towers and fortresses. The walks are gentle but enchanting thanks to the elevated position above the Dordogne valley of the four communes of Saussignac. Walking between Razac and Saussignac

    Detailed Programme:

    9h30 : Meet at Chateau Haut Garrigue, 900m from Saussignac Village. Then we walk on to Chateau La Maurigne where we meet Patrick and Chantal Gérardin.
    11h30: Aperitif offered by the winemakers at our picnic lunch stop
    12h30: Organic picnic for those who reserve it (please email caroline@hautgarrigue.com to book yours) or bring your own.
    14h30: Depart for Isabelle and Thierry Daulhiac at le Payral
    17h00: Car-pooling by drivers to return walkers to Chateau Haut Garrigue where wine orders will be waiting with your car.

    An easy excursion of about 8 km. Cost per adult: 10 euros including the organic picnic/ €4 excluding picnic. Children welcome & free for the walk - €6 for the picnic.

    Practical information for tourists: Saussignac is 1 hour 20 minutes drive from Bordeaux airport (direct flights from Dublin with Aer Lingus and from the UK with various operators) and 15 minutes drive from Bergerac Airport (direct flights from many UK airports and Amsterdam).

    Contact (for press relevant photos are available in high resolution): Caroline Feely: +33 (0)553 227271 or caroline@wildearthvineyards.com (english)


    Les Sentiers du Vin Bio/ The Organic Vineyard Route 2008

    Just over one hour’s drive from Bordeaux city and forty minutes from St Emilion lies our pocket-sized wine appellation of Saussignac, a commune within the greater Bergerac wine region. Saussignac is a dessert wine appellation famous for its vinous bounty since medieval times when Rabelais, a renowned French writer penned his perspective on it. The start of our walk in Saussignac

    Approximately half of the winegrowing members of the Saussignac Producers Union are either organic or in conversion to organic. This sets a stark contrast to the national average for France of less than 3% of wine growers. For locals and tourists seeking a nature friendly vineyard and wine route it presents the ideal place. The producers in the commune of Saussignac also make fine white, rosé and red wines under the greater Bergerac appellation. Along with great wines, a range of excellent accommodation can be found in the area.

    The appellation of Saussignac has very rigorous conditions of production in order to create wines of great quality: hand harvesting in several careful passes through the vineyard, no chaptalisation (adding of sugar) and a very high natural sugar content at harvest (even higher than Sauternes). The search for quality, authenticity and expression of the terroir led many winegrowers here to adopt practices that respect the environment.

    According to Thierry Daulhiac, winegrower and President of the Saussignac Appellation: ‘I went organic to gain a true expression of my terroir and out of respect for the environment. I am proud to represent an appellation where organic agriculture has so many followers. This organic vineyard route is an occasion people to discover nature and the riches of Saussignac, her people, landscape, architecture and wines.’

    Patrick Gerardin at Chateau Maurigne The dynamic team of the Saussignac Tourist office with the help of the Conseil Generale of the Dordogne have developed a selection of walking routes which total 55 kilometres across four communes by the AOC Saussignac. These walking routes are exceptional in their beauty and diversity. The routes offer breathtaking views over the Dordogne Valley and a varied landscape of vines, woods and meadows. They are also rich in architecture with an array of noteworthy castles, towers and fortresses. The walks are gentle but enchanting thanks to the elevated position above the Dordogne valley of the four communes of Saussignac.

    The guides of the Saussignac Tourist Office offer their services to groups every Tuesday morning in the tourist season but the walking routes are open to the public at all times. A guide to the walking routes can be purchased from the tourist office or from the winemakers mentioned at the end of this press release.

    On the route meet the passionate winemakers who can explore the themes of organic farming, biodynamic farming and biodiversity with you. Participating winemakers include:

  • Miaudoux: Gerard and Nathalie Cuisset
  • La Maurigne: Patrick and Chantal Gérardin
  • Le Payral: Isabelle and Thierry Daulhiac
  • Le Chabrier: Eléna and Pierre Carle
  • Haut Garrigue: Caroline and Sean Feely Walking up to Haut Garrigue

    Practical information for tourists: Saussignac is 1 hour 20 minutes drive from Bordeaux airport (direct flights from Dublin with Aer Lingus and from the UK with various operators) and 15 minutes drive from Bergerac Airport (direct flights from many UK airports and Amsterdam).

    Press Contact (all photos on this site are available in high resolution): Caroline Feely: +33 (0)553 227271 or caroline@wildearthvineyards.com (english) For more information (on events, the walking route, accommodation or the wines of Saussignac) interested parties can contact: Caroline Feely: +33 (0)553 227271 or caroline@wildearthvineyards.com (english)

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