Based in the Gard in the southern Rhône, the young Soulier brothers are farming according to permaculture principles and making natural wine from Syrah, Grenache, Counoise and Tempranillo. Their sheep, goats and horse help by providing compost, and next up they hope to get donkeys and maybe cows.
"I was fascinated by biodynamics at the beginning, but now it doesn’t interest me as much – at least not the part everyone talks about, meaning the teas, the cow horns, all that stuff… But animals – they are fundamental to biodynamics, but people don’t speak about that as much. We might not have a certification, or cow horns or silica, but we do have animals, and they’re at the heart of what we do. I think they are worth 1000 cow horns."
People: Charles & Guillaume Soulier
Place: Gard, southern Rhône, France
Varieties: Syrah, Grenache, Tempranillo, Cinsault, Counoise, Clairette, Mourvèdre, Picardan and Terret Noir
Wines: Click here
Did You Know? Charles did winemaking internships with the iconic Mas de Daumas Gassac in the Languedoc, and Thibault-Liger Belair in Burgundy’s Côte de Nuits
From the very beginning, they decided that they would look after animals, too. They have a horse, ten goats and ten sheep. Next year, they’d like to get a couple of donkeys, and they’re thinking about cows one day, but it’s step by step; “we need to be able to feed them too!”
Initially, they had worked the soils with their plough horse, but then one day, Charles stumbled upon the book by the Japanese farmer, Fukuoka. It introduced him to permaculture and would change how he viewed farming entirely.
“I think I have a temperament which means I don’t want to do what everyone else does. I’m very curious, and have always been interested in alternative philosophies. The book ‘One Straw Revolution’ made me reflect. I began to see it as more than farming but also a philosophy of life. We decided to stop working the soils, and accept the notion of doing less. We accepted that we would work differently to how we had been taught and to what everyone else does.”
It meant they would put down the plough and eventually stop working the soils altogether. While yields saw a crash in 2019, 2020 was more abundant and has reignited their hope for the future. An abundance of natural plants have returned to the vineyards. They experimented with sowing cover crops in the past, but it’s problematic, and with the vast diversity that has commenced its return, it seems less necessary.