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Ruinart x Reforest'action: A Commitment to Nurturing Biodiversity in the Champagne Region

At Clos19 sustainability is one of our core values as we strive for more transparent and sustainable processes and celebrate all the efforts carried out by our Maisons. To mark Earth Day 2021, we want to shine a light on an ambitious project lead by Maison Ruinart in collaboration with Reforest'action.

For many years now, Maison Ruinart has committed to protecting the environment and fighting climate change. The Maison has adopted and promoted initiatives throughout its domaine. The most recent and disruptive was the ‘second skin’ case, launched in 2020: an eco-designed alternative to traditional champagne boxes, permitting a 60% reduction in greenhouse gases from this packaging.

In the vineyard — labeled Haute Valeur Environemental et Viticulture Durable en Champagne (High Environmental Value and Sustainable Viticulture in Champagne) since 2014*— the Maison continues to champion living soils. To date it has gone further still, by dedicating the entire 40 hectares of the historic Taissy vineyard to a biodiversity pilot project carried out with Reforest’Action. The initiative distinguishes itself by its size and global approach. It attests to the drive to develop this approach in the years to come and to share it more widely on the scale of the Champagne region.

The project is part of the IMAGINE movement, of which Maison Ruinart is one of the first members. It brings together the worldwide participants mobilizing for the preservation and regeneration of forests on a large scale: in order to fight against the climate emergency and restore biodiversity.

"There is an urgent need to step up actions to nurture biodiversity and mitigate the climate change in the Champagne region. This project is one of the most accessible and effective solutions."

FRÉDÉRIC DUFOUR

President, Maison Ruinart

"We want to regenerate the soils and bring back the original fauna and flora to this parcel through these vitiforestry practices, which allow us to re-establish ecological corridors within the historic Taissy vineyard."

FRÉDÉRIC PANAÏOTIS

Cellar Master, Maison Ruinart

 

A VITIFORESTRY PILOT PROJECT

Working with Reforest’Action, Maison Ruinart wanted to establish an ambitious biodiversity pilot project in its Taissy vineyard, which will be carried out using vitiforestry — that is to say, by applying agroforestry techniques to the vineyard. It’s a comprehensive approach, which is facilitated by its proximity to the existing Fort de Montbré forest area.

The first step, launched in March 2021, was to plant outer hedges. Next, there will be intra-plot hedges and islets intended to divide the plot with a complete grid without putting excessive pressure on the current vineyard and its operations.

Between 2021 and 2022, nearly 14,000 trees and shrubs will be planted, spread across 4.4 km of hedges and 800 m2 of islets. Local wood species have been privileged to greatly improve biodiversity and to provide habitats for fauna useful for growing vines (ladybugs, lacewings, birds, bats). These include hornbeams, hawthorns, dogwoods, viburnams, pussy willows, rowans, European spindles, beeches, and lindens.

The project also helps restore, at the landscape level, the harmony and naturalness of the Champagne vineyard, with its segmentation and its hedges, as might have existed three generations ago.

 

EXPERTISE IN SERVICE OF BIODIVERSITY

Forest specialist Reforest’Action is a Certified B Corporation: a company whose mission is to preserve, restore and create forests in France and around the world, in response to the climate emergency and the erosion of biodiversity.

To implement its goals, Reforest’Action selects forestry projects, supports them financially and ensures their quality, in order to develop their multi-functionality— environmentally, socially and economically—in the long term.

Reforest’Action’s mission is made possible through participatory funding from citizens and businesses. Since its creation in 2010, Reforest’Action has planted and protected more than 10 million trees in 25 countries and raised awareness amongst 20 million people about the importance of forests.

 

KEY FIGURES

Forests constitute the 1st carbon sinks within landmasses

80% of biodiversity on earth is sheltered in forests

31% of land is today covered by forests, compared to 68% four centuries ago

1 tree planted is, on average:

150kg of CO2 over 30 years

3 animal shelters created

4 months of oxygen generated

1 hour of created work

The project led by Maison Ruinart and Reforest’Action in the 40 hectares of the Taissy vineyard will include, overall, more than 25,000 plants.

TAISSY, AN IDEAL CONTEXT FOR A COMPREHENSIVE PROJECT

Maison Ruinart has made Chardonnay its emblem. But while this grape variety is king on the Côte des Blancs, Maison Ruinart nevertheless is rooted in the northern hillsides of the Montagne de Reims.Chardonnay from the Montagne de Reims offers taut, chiseled, and beautifully powerful wines that are essential to the assemblage of Maison Ruinart’s cuvées.

Sillery to start: This terroir, the best-known, is the only Grand Cru Chardonnay classified as such so close to the city of Reims. The gently sloping vineyard, oriented eastward, is still the property of the Ruinart family’s descendants. Even today, during each harvest, the resulting grapes are delivered entirely to the Maison. Taissy next: a few kilometers away, where the Chardonnay clusters benefit from exposure to the morning sun as they ripen, and derive — from the especially chalky limestone soils and subsoils —the freshness that is so characteristic of blanc de blancs.

Classified Premier Cru, the Taissy vineyard has a very unique place in the history of Maison Ruinart. Referenced as early as 1733 in the archives, the purchase of grapes were cited only four years after the founding of the oldest Champagne House by Nicolas Ruinart. Several other testimonies confirm the family’s interest in this terroir, such as in the written correspondence between Madame Ruinart and her husband between 1775 and 1776: “I went to Taissy yesterday (...) I went to see the vines. They are very beautiful.”

Today, Maison Ruinart has a remarkable plot of nearly 40 hectares in Taissy, in premier cru, a unit surface area that is rare in the Champagne region and makes an ideal setting for a comprehensive biodiversity project. The parcels are mainly planted with rows of Chardonnay (aged 6 to 18 years), but there is also Pinot Meunier (aged 19 to 23 years). By initiating this approach to biodiversity in its own historic vineyard, the Maison reaffirms its drive to act for the excellence of the Champagne region.