High Environmental Value and Sustainable Vinegrowing
Since October 26, 2015, Champagne Jean Plener Fils holds the double certification « Sustainable Vinegrowing in Champagne » and « High Environmental Value ».
What does that mean?
“HVE” stands for “High Environmental Value”. It is a national scheme, supervised by the Ministry of Agriculture. HVE corresponds to the highest level of a more general scheme of environmental certification for farms. It is a voluntary approach which aims to identify and promote particularly environmental-friendly practices applied by farmers. HVE covers four key areas : biodiversity conservation, plant protection strategy, management of fertiliser use and management of water.
“Sustainable Vinegrowing in Champagne” (VDC), is a certification established by the Comité Champagne: targeted for local specificities, it is complementary to the HVE approach. The challenges of this approach are:
– Controlling the use of inputs in the aim of respecting health and the environment,
– Preserving the terroir; biodiversity and vineyard landscapes,
– Managing water use responsibly, including effluents, by-products and waste,
– Reducing energy dependency and carbon footprint.
No less than 140 criteria, ranging from the development of the vineyard to the training of the winemaker, passing through soil care and waste management, compose the « Sustainable Vinegrowing in Champagne » scheme.
To obtain this double certification, we were controlled by an independent auditor. This auditor will check regularly that we keep our commitments, and that we are constantly questioning our practices to adapt to technological and cultural developments.
Is it going to change anything for our Champagnes?
The quality, taste and price of our Champagnes are the same ; the energy we give to produce it is more intense, because our bottles are produced according to the rules of High Environmental Value and Sustainable Vinegrowing in Champagne.
We chose these schemes by conviction, and only by conviction. For us, sustainability means respecting the environment, but also respecting our clients. The quality of our Champagnes will always be the highest, and we will not put rise our prices to cover the increase of investments and costs incurred by the HVE. We consider it our duty, as farmer, to tend towards greater environmental excellence.
HVE and VDC: thank you to those for whom it’s hard
So, for Champagne Plener, sustainable development means respecting the environment, respecting our clients, but also respecting our employees. And that is where HVE and VDC are hard. When you have to spend hours in the heat to take grass off manually, it’s exhausting. Hanging kilos of mud on our boots when pruning because our soils have been plowed, it makes harder an already tedious task. Same when it comes to pushing full wheelbarrows during the harvest. For our seasonal workers and for our full-time employee, the HVE and VDC schemes actually make things harder. Thanks to them !
To conclude :
We hear here and there that these schemes are not enough demanding. No matter where you put the cursor; some will always be find it too low and others too high. Here is my opinion on this matter: the commitment in these schemes is a necessary first step that pushes us to concretely improve. All the better if these labels give us a positive image. But eventually, the most difficult is to continue our efforts « at home »! Champagne Plener is a small family business: in our view, being “HVE” and “VDC” means something only if, in our private lives, our efforts are in line with those of our work. To hunt for plastic waste, take the bike instead of the car etc: none of this has been controlled by the auditor. And yet, this is also where efforts are needed!
Enthusiasm is the key word!
Video presenting Sustainable Winegrowing :