The estate “EARL Archimbaud Vache – Le Clos des Cazaux” has been recognized as a

High Environmental Value (HVE) is based on environmental performance indicators.

High environmental value agriculture (HVE) is a certification system created and supervised by the French Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, designed to promote the production of agricultural products from farms that voluntarily commit to environmentally-friendly practices. Launched in 2011, this is a global approach to preserving the environment that certifies not the quality of a product but the environmental quality of an entire farm!

What are the similarities and differences between HVE and organic farming?

HVE and Bio are two public schemes designed to promote agricultural products, whether processed or not, whose production methods are particularly respectful of the environment. They are governed by precise specifications whose requirements are checked on site by independent bodies approved by the French government (the certifying body is AFNOR).

  • Bio is an official acronym. This mark is governed by specifications defined at European regulatory level and can be applied to a product, whether processed or not. The requirements apply to all stages of the supply chain, from the production of raw materials to processing and distribution, and are subject to controls at every stage… All operators in the organic supply chain are controlled from production to marketing. There are over 42,000 of them in France. The European logo has been affixed to products since 2010, and the AB logo can be used in addition.
  • HVE is a label awarded by the French public authorities, allowing “farm” certification. The specifications cover the entire farm. To obtain certification, the farmer must reason out his practices on the scale of the entire farm (agro-ecology principles), taking into account all the natural areas present on his farm and not just his land in agricultural production. A logo identifies products from HVE level 3 farms only.

What do these two types of certification guarantee consumers?

Organic production attests to a concern for the environment at every stage, notably through the implementation of practices guaranteeing the absence of synthetic chemicals and GMOs. Organic production is based on respect for natural systems and cycles, maintaining and improving the health of soil, water, plants and animals, helping to achieve a high level of biodiversity and respecting high animal welfare standards.

HVE certification goes a step further, attesting to environmental excellence through the achievement of performance thresholds (results-based obligations) in 4 areas:

  • Biodiversity;
  • A phytosanitary strategy;
  • Fertilization management;
  • Water resource management.

HVE best practices

Preserving biodiversity

A number of biodiversity-friendly practices and actions are taken into account in the context of High Environmental Value certification, such as:

  • Maintain, or even increase, the proportion of the farm set aside for agro-ecological infrastructure (= semi-natural habitats that receive neither chemical fertilizers nor pesticides) such as permanent meadows, borders, hedges and isolated trees, grassed strips, terraces and low walls, ponds and ditches, etc.). The minimum ratio is 10% agro-ecological surface area on the whole farm, and we’re at 137%… thanks to our Gigondas vineyard, among others, where we’ve left 20 meters of forest between each plot so that wild animals can circulate without entering our vineyard.
  • Diversifying the plant species grown and the animal species raised: in our hedges and isolated trees, we allow all Mediterranean species of trees and shrubs to grow, and have planted cypress hedges to cut the Mistral wind on our windiest plots.
  • Installing beehives and/or encouraging the presence of flowers to feed bees and other associated insects: we installed beehives until 3 years ago.
Phytosanitary strategy

High Environmental Value certification recognizes farmers who seek to limit their dependence on chemical inputs, particularly plant protection products. The practices implemented to limit their use are valued within the framework of this certification and in particular:

  • Targeted, reasoned application of treatments: at the Domaine, we benefit from the infrastructure of weather stations provided by the METEUS software. This allows us to manage our phytosanitary treatments as closely as possible to climatic incidents. We maintain and preserve as many untreated areas as possible (hedges, forests, low walls, etc.).
  • The use of alternative prophylactic methods to chemical control (manual work instead of chemical control) : our vineyards are disbudded, leaf-thinned and hand-picked to aerate the vegetation, avoid fruit overcrowding and optimize the quality of the harvest, while avoiding the use of chemical products to cure the resulting diseases (grey rot, black rot, mildew, oidium, etc.).
  • Grass cover: the grass cover installed on the estate has several purposes:
    1. Limiting erosion, avoiding runoff and encouraging soil life by limiting ploughing in the case of controlled natural grassing over several years.
    2. Restructuring soil degraded by too much ploughing when we take over land.
    3. Completely rebuild soil quality when replanting by resting for 5 years between plantings, using barley and vetch to add organic nitrogen (vetch) and decompact the soil (barley).
Fertilization management

The High Environmental Value label recognizes farms that manage their fertilization in a balanced way and are not heavily dependent on external fertilizers. The practices that are valued as part of this certification include the following:

  • Carry out a nitrogen balance sheet to monitor nitrogen inputs and outputs, using soil analyses carried out on all UCs (cultivation units) to assess the state of chemical elements (nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus) and potential deficiencies, as well as the micro-organisms responsible for soil life.
  • Adaptation of nitrogen inputs to the needs of the vines, depending on the plots, in the light of the analyses (no addition of nitrogen if the analyses do not validate it).
  • Introduction of legumes in plant cover crops to produce organic nitrogen.
  • Leaf analysis during vegetation (every two weeks) to detect trace element deficiencies even before the vine manifests the deficiency on the leaves. Then spray with organic seaweed slurry, adding the missing elements to correct deficiencies.
Managing water resources

High Environmental Value recognizes farmers who seek to limit their dependence on inputs, particularly water. The practices that are valued as part of this certification include the following:

  • The introduction of controlled irrigation by 3 water control stations within the estate, so that watering is only carried out when drought poses a problem for the ripening of the crop and the life of the vineyard.
  • Implementing cultivation practices to limit water input by planting drought-resistant grape varieties.
  • If irrigation is necessary: detailed monitoring of the water supplied by the appellation’s fraud control department in addition to our own system.
  • Installation of equipment to optimize water input (drip irrigation type).
  • Facilities to limit pollution of surrounding water resources (water springs and streams): our winery is connected to the village sewage system, which recycles all our cellar cleaning water, and our cleaning and sprayer rinsing water is treated in a closed circuit by the Phytobac@ system. We can therefore say that we do not discharge any polluted water into the environment.