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Distillers-winegrowers in Archiac : ep. 05 Émilie Descube

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT SERIES

The new generation are making their mark in Cognac with the sons and daughters of winegrowers now taking over. Emilie Descubes is one of them. When she came back to her family’s vineyards in Petite Champagne, her return coincided with the implementation of new environmental practices. Iris Mour went to meet her.

A family affaire

Belonging to the fifth generation of winegrowers-distillers, Emilie Descubes took the reins alongside her father in 2017 who wanted her to have “a gentle transition”. Before returning to the family estate, the 29-year-old, who had previously set her mind on studying classical literature in Bordeaux, had a change of heart and transferred to the “School of Wine & Spirits” in Segonzac, in the heart of Charentes, where she graduated with a Master’s degree in Law, Management and Trade in Spirits. 

“What made me return was my family ties, of course, but also my love of the vineyards. I enjoy the highly technical side of distillation but the vine growth cycle also fascinates me,” she acknowledges. She puts the 30 hectares of Ugni Blanc she has to play with to good use. With continuous support from her father, she divides her time between the vineyards and the dozen or so pot stills where they distil wine spirits together for a large Cognac firm.

New agro-environmental practices

In the vineyards, Emilie, whose estate was awarded HEV and Cognac Environmental Certification, is committed to improving practices. “We have reduced the use of treatments and abandoned the use of certain products. For the past two years, we have experimented with green fertilizers in part of the vineyards to increase the percentage of cover crops each year.” Her philosophy is to tend to the soil so that the soil gives back to the vines. Grassing does, in fact, have several benefits including fertilizing the soils using organic matter, as well as enhancing microbial life and fighting against erosion. 

The next challenge is to obtain ISO 14001 environmental certification for distillation activities. “We have focused on this requirement to reduce the environmental impact of distillation, particularly its carbon footprint.” Their action plan: save gas, water and electricity, treat waste produced during distillation and limit CO2 emissions thanks to new-generation burners. 

Emilie Descube portrait

Descubes
Chez Bernard 17520 Archiac

 

 

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