Work in the vineyard
Observing, strengthening, and maintaining
Vineyard workers, horse handlers, and tractor drivers are busy all through the year tending the 800,000 vines that make up Château Latour's vineyard. Meticulous care and rigorous expertise accompany every step of the vine’s growth cycle in preparation of the birth of a great wine.
Pruning, attachment to trellis wires, ploughing, trimming of excess foliage and green harvests are all crucial for optimum growth and the selection of the best grapes.
The preservation of this magnificent heritage also involves the replacement of dead or accidentally damaged vines by new, young vines. This technique, known as « complantation », accounts for about 3% of the vines every year. It helps to maintain the potential quality and yields of the plots. In these plots, the young plants are tagged and harvested separately so that they do not affect the potential of the older vines. Sometimes, when the average age of the vines in a plot is too high or too varied, a complete uprooting and replanting becomes necessary. After uprooting, the soil is left to rest for an appropriate period, to enable it to restructure and regenerate itself.
More generally, in 2009, Château Latour’s teams began a review of the vine growing methods in place that has led, over the years, to profound changes in practices in the vineyard and the ways that the vines are protected. This has involved a reintegration into our practices of an understanding and respect for the balance between the vines, the soil and the environment, with a view to achieving an optimal expression of the terroir in the wines. In this approach, human intervention seeks to stimulate biodiversity in the vineyard and the vines’ natural defences. For example, horses were reintroduced in 2008 to plough the soil. People and animals are thus returned to the heart of the vineyard, while at the same time reducing soil compaction and enabling closer monitoring of changes among the vines.
This updating of the Château’s philosophy and working methods ultimately led to the teams initiating organic certification from Ecocert. Since August 2015, the entire Château Latour vineyard has been managed according to the principles of organic farming. This certification also extends to the winery and the vinification of the property’s wines; it should be issued in August 2018.
In parallel, biodynamic preparations are also being applied to most of the Enclos. These consist of various formulations tailored to the vineyard’s requirements and applied depending on the weather conditions for each vintage, and according to the lunar calendar. These choices and objectives have evolved thanks to the people who work at Château Latour, who have gradually trained in these methods, and who rise every day to the dual challenge of preserving the vineyard and ensuring the quality of the wines and of their aromatic expression.