In Rauzan, seven winegrowers encourage walkers to stroll among their vines. The 5.5 km circular walk is designed to raise environmental awareness among the 15,000 visitors welcomed by Les Caves de Rauzan and the 330 producers whose products it sells.
Walkers here may hope to catch a glimpse of a Eurasian blackcap, to smell the sweet fragrance of the hawthorn or admire the wild orchids, but "it’s also about dispelling the misapprehension that biodiversity is financially beyond our members and too complicated to do anything about, despite the fact that it creates a balance that is very useful to the winegrower”, explains Philippe Hébrard, Director of Les Caves de Rauzan
Hedges for mites
Éric Barrat agrees. Éric is one of the first to have introduced natural methods to his 43 hectares of vines that he cultivates organically. "For example, hedges provide the perfect habitat for certain types of mite, like Typhlodromus, which feeds on insects harmful to the vines". It’s also a real pleasure to see the ponds and their plants, which attract small molluscs, dragonflies and frogs, and to watch wild animals drinking in those pools where the slope of the bank makes it possible for them to reach the water".
But the hands-on environmental commitment shown by Les Caves de Rauzan is by no means new: having been awarded ISO 14000 environmental standard compliance in 1996, this group of producers has been recovering and recycling its waste ever since, with initiatives like converting grape skins and pips to compost.
They achieved a new milestone in 2014 with ISO 26000 certification, adding social responsibility to the nature protection commitments of its members. Today, 50% of them are also Agriconfiance certified for their waste management performance. Better still, a dozen of them have also been awarded the High Environmental Value (HVE) Level 3 label which certifies that they have devoted at least 10% of their land to meadows, woods and hedges to promote biodiversity. All that remains now is to convince the others, and subsidies are helping to do that.
106 different species identified
The Conservatoire d’espaces naturels d’Aquitaine regional natural environment conservation agency has conducted an inventory of the ecosystems represented by the Rauzan vineyards. Its researchers have identified no fewer than 106 plant and animal species, 9 of which are the subject of national and/or European protection orders. Visitors can identify them for themselves using the interpretation panels provided.
Nesting boxes for migratory birds are produced from recycled wine crates by woodworker Jean-Baptiste Hue, and are available to buy as part of the visit: an excellent gift idea!
(Photo: Les Caves de Rauzan Director Philippe Hébrard holds one of the nesting boxes).
Please note that only 20 people at a time may use the circular path, which is intentionally not marked or signposted. So please register in advance with Les Caves de Rauzan.
For more information:
Caves de Rauzan
1, L’Aiguilley 33420 Rauzan
Tel.: +33(0)5 57 84 19 97