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Les Dolomies

Céline & Steve Gormally live in the village of Passenans, in the Jura. Their house backs directly onto a vegetable garden where their donkeys and ducks also live. They farm their Savagnin, Chardonnay, Pinot, Poulsard & Trousseau according to biodynamic & permaculture principles and make wine with minimal intervention.

LITTLEWINE visited Les Dolomies during harvest 2020

"Having different elements such as trees and a pond attract different insects and birds – another type of fauna and flora – which improves the diversity of the ecosystem."

People:  Céline & Steve Gormally

Place:  Jura, France

Varieties:  Savagnin, Chardonnay, Poulsard, Trousseau, Gamay, Pinot Noir

Hectares:  5.5 

Farming:  Biodynamic & Permaculture

Did You Know? When it comes to replanting vineyards, they are now doing so with principles of agroforestry. When replanting a 0.25-hectare section of their parcel, Les Boutonnieres, they will keep a 10-metre row to plant with fruit trees, with the aim of avoiding an overly monocultural system. They will seek advice from a friend who runs a local tree nursery, La Pépinière d'ici et d'ailleurs, which works with several rare and old species of fruit trees.

They apply biodynamic teas, and they make the stinging nettle preparation themselves, but their particular passion is working with animals. This began with their donkeys, which they harvest with. Next came fifty chickens. These weren’t just chickens for the purpose of eggs, meat and fertiliser, but rather Céline and Steve had a very specific job in mind for them: curing their budworm problem in the Chardonnay parcel, La Chaux.

Budworms are a type of caterpillar that develop before harvest, attacking the grapes and making holes in them, which leads to various types of rot developing. It can be hugely damaging, and Céline and Steve had always struggled with it in one parcel. After analysing the lifecycle of the budworm, they realised that they nest in the wood of the vines over winter. What’s more, they discovered that budworm is ideal chicken food. So, they decided to release the chickens into the vineyard after harvest, before nesting season began, and it worked! This year, they have had no budworms at all. 

Three goats also joined the crew. They are released into the trickiest to farm vineyards over winter – those where there’s a lot of grass and which can’t be worked by tractor – Les Combes in particular. 

Next year, they will buy sixty more chickens together with a friend, to put in the vineyards again, as well as for meat production. They also have their eyes on getting a few pigs, as they have a winemaker friend who has successfully introduced pigs to vineyards. Céline will also take a draft horse training course with a friend, with the end goal of working some of their vineyards by horse and plough.

“We really believe in the importance of integrating animals into the vineyards. We want to bring diversity to the vines, and animals are a form of culture. They help us to break the monocultural mould of a vineyard.” 

"We have many birds that nest in our vineyards; we see the eggs, the fledglings, every step. That’s why we keep the grasses high late into the season, as this...

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