SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT SERIES
Journalist Iris Mour continues her series of portraits of winegrowers committed to preserving the environment in the Cognac vineyards. She signs the portrait of Elodie Bouyer, the winegrower at the head of Domaine de Birius, in Petite Champagne.
Between tradition and ecology
She oversees vineyard management in addition to winemaking and blending to produce wine spirits. Elodie Bouyer has managed this family estate since 2014: at the time, she was not yet thirty years old. “I was born into the Cognac industry. When I was sixteen, I was already helping to blend Cognacs and as I got the hang of it, my father gradually let me blend them by myself. I am fascinated by perfumes and Cognac is itself like a perfume: it’s a blend of different aromas. Blending is magical!”
While captivated by the art of the cellar, Elodie is equally fascinated by the vines. She shares the same vision as her parents, Anne and Philippe, based on an eco-friendly approach to winegrowing. Domaine de Birius’s 33 hectares of vines are planted on clay-limestone slopes with varying degrees of friability, depending on the plot.
Vineyard practices in line with the principles of agroecology
Over time, the family, which has been in the Cognac region for ten generations, learned to adapt to the terroir. From 1996 onwards, Elodie’s parents abandoned the use of chemical weedkillers in favor of natural green cover between vine rows. A small network of winegrowers was thus formed: together, they installed small weather stations in the vineyards to predict and model vine diseases, thereby limiting the use of treatments and promoting the development of microbial life in the soil.
In turn, Elodie is turning a page in the estate’s history by using vegetable compost and limiting human intervention in the soils to “avoid mixing different soil layers”. She also limits the use of copper to fight against mildew in favor of biocontrol products such as orange essential oils: “It helps repel insects from the vineyards although I only use it if there is a high threat of vine diseases.”
The estate has obtained HEV & Cognac Environmental Certification – a collective and demanding type of certification which promotes holistic approaches aiming to preserve biodiversity, reduce the use of input products, manage fertilizers, and optimize water resources.
To be continued…