Domaine Bernard Defaix
Bernard Defaix, fourth generation of a family of vine-growers, started in 1959 with 2 hectares. At about this time, the first techniques for protecting vineyards from spring frosts were discovered. Over the years, Bernard and his wife Monique have acquired new land. Their efforts duly enriched the domain, which now included some of the best named places of the Chablis region. Today, true to the family tradition, the domain is run by Sylvain and Didier. Bernard nevertheless continues to provide his expert advice to his two sons. Today the domain stretches over 27 hectares : Chablis Premier Cru (Côte de Lechet, Vaillons and Lys), Chablis and Petit Chablis.
Sustainable and Organic Farming
For many years yet, we have moved towards a sustainable and more ecological farming. Organic farming is the logical result of all this work. The maintenance of the soils is made ploughing exclusively. We always make a winter ploughing, more or less deep according to the situations. We also try to earth some vines up as our parents and grand-parents used to do. It consists in digging a furrow in the middle of the row so as to bring back some earth at the base of the vine plant and make a little mound. The point of this work is to aerate the soil deeply and to bury the weeds. However, both earthing-up and de-earthing are delicate to do as they need good weather conditions. Moreover, in the sloping plots, it can increase the erosion. Then, during the season, the ploughing is being done at different times, according to the weeds sprouting. For the vineyard's protection, only the spraying products like sulphur and cupper are authorized. Therefore we have to use them as properly as possible in order to reach the best efficiency without spraying too much nor too often. This is a very concrete and an interesting approach of vine-growing, yet it is also very constraining and stressful to follow up. Considering this new context, we completely rethink our way to work the vine, helping the plant to get back to its central role and helping it to fight against parasites. Some signs of research on products that boost the natural defence system are coming up. However, at present, they don't seem to be as efficient as expected. We are also using various preparations for a biodynamic approach: the 500P (horn manure) for the soils vitality, the 501 to stimulate the foliage and the photosynthesis as well as other "herb tea". In this context, we are getting closer to the working situation of our grand-parents and then of our parents when they started, yet with two important advantages. On the one hand, we use a much higher-performance material as well for working the soils as for spraying. On the other hand, we now have forecast tools for the weather and for the pressure of diseases that were not available then.
(Source: Bernard Defaix France)