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The ethos


Farming the hillsides organically is a commitment that Christine Vernay no longer questions. She entered into it in 1996 and the entire Estate is now certified.


For over 20 years, Christine Vernay has used organic farming methods.
Considering herself as the custodian of a land for which she is responsible for caring, she has long been committed to organic farming, long before it was fashionable or urgent to do so. She has now successfully demonstrated that, while it is difficult to work the steeply sloping vineyards using organic farming, it is not impossible.


Mulching, grass growing… she is constantly experimenting and today, most of her investments go towards implementing sustainable cultivation techniques which protect the environment and unquestionably enhance the purity of her wines.


While she believes that organic farming is an ethical issue, she is moving towards biodynamics as a philosophy :
« For more than 20 years I have worked using organic farming methods, even if I only recently applied for certification. This is primarily an ethic deeply rooted in the Estate’s values rather than a commercial strategy… Over 20 years, I have shown that we can be organic even on the slopes, that this had a price, but that it was possible. I’m trying to go even further, towards biodynamics which is more of a philosophy, a personal belief. Organic farming is a responsibility. But it is a great adventure and I’m beginning to see the results in my wines. Aubert de Villaine says that wines from organic practices have greater transparency. I think they also have another vibrancy. But everything is in the subtlety of the attentiveness !».


The hillsides of Condrieu and Côte-Rôtie are places with a rich and dual heritage. They are not only vineyards set on land which must be kept for crops, they also represent a vital natural rural heritage. They require regular maintenance to repair the low stone walls that support the terraces and the steps that connect them.

Although Georges Vernay is recognised as having saved these hillsides, Christine has watched over them since 1996, an heiress taking care of her inheritance, but also an experienced winemaker and manager of an Estate that she runs and develops according to her values and beliefs.
She regularly rebuilds the “chaillées”, the dry-stone walls that support the terraced vines and replants the vines, all to ensure this exceptional heritage is maintained.


In 2019, Christine Vernay rebuilt the chaillées, the dry-stone walls that support the terraced vines, on the Vernon hillside and replanted the vines
She chose the plants using the sélection massale process, taking cuttings from the best older vines in the vineyard. A well tried and tested process.


There are 4 soil maintenance methods at the Estate, depending on the configuration:
Pickaxe: in those places that are most difficult to access,
Winch: when the terraces are long and accessible enough,
Horses: for the lower slopes
Cable (in addition to the pickaxe).


As for the rest of the Estate, it is impossible to mechanise the processes used on the hillsides; they are carried out manually in testing physical conditions.


Organic farming on the hillsides is primarily a matter of manpower; several parcels have to be processed quickly and simultaneously.
At the Estate, more than 1 person works each hectare, all work combined.
The ethos of organic viticulture thus increases the cost of production by 30%.