British bio-dynamic wine maker Robert Eden has built the world’s first hemp cellar in the Cru Classé “La Livinière” village of the Languedoc region in the South of France. When the vineyard was purchased in the early 90s, the initial yields were lower than expected. The soil was dead, due to the previous farmer’s overuse of chemical fertilizers... Read more
British bio-dynamic wine maker Robert Eden has built the world’s first hemp cellar in the Cru Classé “La Livinière” village of the Languedoc region in the South of France. When the vineyard was purchased in the early 90s, the initial yields were lower than expected. The soil was dead, due to the previous farmer’s overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, so the estate looked at ways of rejuvenating it, using compost. Bio-dynamic preparations were added to one organic pile of compost and another was left alone. After a while, the bio-dynamic pile had far more living organisms in it. The decision was then made and Francois Bouchet, a specialist in bio-dynamic vineyards, helped Chateau Maris get started. It was a business decision because the vines are now healthier and grow longer – and the quality of the grapes is better. The entire estate is certified by both Demeter and Biodyvin. Yields are now 32 Hl/Ha on average and the entire estate is hand harvested. Château Maris also owns two work horses. Each year some plots are ploughed that way. Barley, bulgur and mustard is grown between rows and re-ploughed into the soil, along with the organic compost, to enrich it and to avoid farming in mono-culture. Château Maris also continues to perfect methods specifically adapted to its land. The estate uses its very own recipes of teas/tisanes of nettles and chamomile combining lavender and many minerals. Now, it’s not uncommon for consumers to query the extent to which a wine estate can be ‘completely’ organic. Surely, they ask, the organic commitment begins and ends in the vineyard? Well no – and especially not at Château Maris. The main reason for constructing an environmentally-friendly building is that, as a farmer, climate change is a big enemy. The new 9000 ft² cellar houses the wines from Chateau Maris. It is built to run environmentally efficiently – with zero carbon emission. It was constructed using hemp, lime and wood. Hemp is good for the soil while growing; it fights soil erosion, needs no pesticides or fertilisers and little water, and consumes co2. Only its straw was used for the bricks so the rest of the plant will be marketed for oils. The wood is from certified managed forests which capture and store carbon. The hemp bricks also absorb co2 during 20 to 25 years as the lime solidifies into limestone. Utilizing only renewable raw materials, the cellar is a ‘vegetable’ building and completely recyclable. Our vines are connected to nature and so is our cellar. Neither heating equipment nor air conditioners are needed, so the building functions without any energy consumption. Hemp bricks, unlike concrete or metal, are ‘alive’ and able to breathe. They maintain temperature and humidity at a constant level on their own, whereas most buildings ineffectively use fossil fuels to function. Solar panels and a wind farm on site will ensure that the cellar has no carbon footprint, producing more energy than it consumes. We also collect rainwater and recycle used water. This cellar may have a phenomenal effect on the taste of the bio-dynamic wine. It will be incredibly exciting to see how it evolves once it has lived in a ‘living, breathing’ cellar. Château Maris also wants to encompass these beliefs into the land surrounding the cellar with an ethno-botanical garden surrounding the winery, with endemic plants, and a visitor centre (also made from hemp). The whole site will be open to the public. The site of the cellar was chosen because of its good energy, nearby is a Visigoth chapel (which is being restored) and dowsers who investigated it found that there was such a huge force that they were literally shaking. The lay of the land also meant that the cellar could be pushed against a bank to use gravity and covered with a grass roof that integrates perfectly into the existing landscape. In the cellar, the wine is made using only natural yeasts found in the vineyard and bottled un-fined and un-filtered. The oxidation is limited as much as possible by keeping the wines with CO2 at constantly low temperature instead of sulphur. The wine is racked the least amount of times and are all aged for at the very least 12 months in oak barrels. The end product is a "never corrected" un-acidified, un-chaptalized natural wine. All the tanks, cone shaped wooden ones or large wide natural concrete ones or egg shaped concrete ones, are all specifically designed and sized for Chateau Maris by tank maker Nomblot. All Maris wines are suitable for vegetarians and vegans. But surely the idea of sustainability ends once the wine leaves the winery? Once again, no. Three of the Château Maris wine labels donate $1.50 from each bottle sold to the Jane Goodall Institute, Rainforest Foundation or International Polar Foundation. All these organisations are helping to stabilize climate change. The vast majority of the production is bottled in Ultra-Light 100% recycled glass weighing in at only 395g that are half a pound lighter than a regular Burgundy bottle. The labels are all made with recycled paper Read less
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