le tasting room

Loire wine tours, tastings, day trips from Paris & short breaks organised by experienced English wine trade professionals.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Planting Vines

Visited our local pépinière viticole yesterday to pick up a few vines for le tasting room. We decided upon half a dozen Cabernet Franc and half a dozen Chenin Blanc and intend to plant them in two different ways, as a trained row with posts and wires and as bush vines, untrained on the ground.

We first visited the pépinière in the autumn last year to discuss our requirements and were a little hesitant when asking for just 1 dozen grafted vines for our business. The reception and advice we received as to the choice of vine and relevant rootstocks was helpful even though our order was likely to be miniscule compared with other customers. We eventually decided to opt for Chenin and Cabernert Franc on a Fercal rootstock (one that tolerates high levels of chalk) and agreed to return in the Spring this year to discuss it further.

We arrived, without appointment, to be met by the proprietor, who remembered us instantly, went inside to collect a ready typed 'devis' (quote), collected the vines from the refrigerated holding room, bundled them up, labelled them and shook our hand. Great service from a local supplier.

Now all we have to do it get them planted and we can then look forward to sharing their development, pruning and training methods with our clients when they come to see us.

As a side note, the reason why vines have to be grafted is so that they are resistant to Phylloxera - a little louse-like pest that infected European vineyards towards the end of the 19th Century. It was first brought over from America by keen Victorian English gardeners wanting to plant rare and exotic specimens in their conservatories. They unwittingly brought with them, the Phylloxera louse which in turn made its way to France and many other countries in Europe as well. This louse, which destroys the roots of the vine, went on to destroy a large proportion of Europe's vineyards and it was some time before a 'cure' was discovered. The answer was and remains today, to graft the vines on to American rootstock. There are some producers who today plant their vines ungrafted such as Henry Marionnet but they take the risk that their vines will eventually become infected and the vineyards will have to be uprooted and replaced over time.

Pépinière Viticole
La Magaudière
49320 St Jean des Mauvrets


  1. Would be very grateful if you could send me a photo of the blasted vineyard you mention in your comment on Jim's Loire please? Many thanks. Jim

  2. If you are planning to make wines from these vines I would strongly suggest making a much larger purchase. At a medium yield you might get 4 litres of each variety before wasteage. I've got a collection of old glass dame-jeannes but the smallest I've ever found is 6 litres. Also think about a pressoir - smallest are around 10 litres capacity. I started with 80 Cabernet Franc and 80 Sauvignon blanc, added 50 Cot and recently another 250 Cabernet. Anything under 50 vines of each will not be worth the effort.

  3. Thanks for the advice Mark - sadly we don't have room to plant any more than the 12 but the goal for these vines is not really to make wine but to use them in an educative way - to illustrate pruning, development, diseases (hopefully not), canopy management etc. We were hoping to plant a few rows above the house but the ground has proved unsuitable. May try and persuade our neighbour to sell us a few rows a little further down the line. You are obviously in the Loire planting those varieties?

  4. Yes, in Eastern Touraine.