Beyond the legislation imposed by the decree of control according to the Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC, cultivation techniques are evolving in the direction of greater environmental protection.
To protect their vineyards, winemakers of Chateauneuf-du-Pape are increasingly using more environmentally friendly methods. An increasing number of winegrowers are moving towards sustainable and/or organic viticulture. Among the existing biological solutions many winemakers use the method of "sexual confusion." This consists of disseminating pheromones of the female Eudemis butterfly, whose caterpillars are attracted to grapes, and diverting them away from the vines. The pheromones trick the males into thinking they have found a group of females. The misguided males fertilize the safe area without actually inseminating any females. Grape worms can be almost entirely eliminated this way. To date, more than 1,000 hectares of vineyards, a third of the vineyard, are protected in this way.
Organic viticulture in Chateauneuf-du-Pape
Organic farming methods are based on maintaining life in the soil, respecting biological cycles, and protecting the environment. All organic growers agree that respect for the soil is paramount. Only vines growing in a living soil full of worms and bacteria can extract maximum nutrients and mineral elements.
In Châteauneuf-du-Pape, winemakers, especially the young generation, are increasingly organically oriented. Many winemakers practice "sustainable viticulture," which means they avoid whenever possible the use of herbicides and pesticides, and apply organic farming principles as long as they are economically feasible. When chemical sprays are used, preference is give to those that are quickly biodegradable due to sunlight and microorganisms in the soil. Some winegrowers who practice organic methods choose not to become certified because this entails fees and paperwork as well as a commitment to sustainable methods at all times. In 2009, there were 8 biodynamic winegrowers in Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines (see list). Lunar cycles, biorhythms, and more astronomical signs are also major considerations in timing operations in the vineyard and the cellars. In short, by employing biodynamic principles, the grower aims to harmonize the rhythm of the vine with its capacity to bear fruit. An increasing number of internationally renowned estates are successfully using this approach to make better wine.