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Different Types of Viticulture
Lutte Raisonnée / Lutte Intégrée: The “reasoned struggle,” lutte raisonnée is a tempered approach to vineyard management wherein the grower limits chemical applications to times of necessity, rather than spraying recurrently. In 2002, the French Ministry of Agriculture defined lutte raisonnée as a sustainable practice that “enhances the positive impacts of agriculture on the environment and reduces the negative impacts, without jeopardizing the economic viability of farms.” If, in addition, the vigneron first uses natural alternatives or methods in place of synthetic ones when combatting pests, they are practicing lutte intégrée—the “integrated struggle.” With this approach, vignerons prefer to employ natural copper- or sulfur-based sprays rather than synthetic ones, and may choose sustainable options like sexual confusion—the release of pheromones to bewilder male insects and decrease their ability to mate—or the release of natural predators as a first line of defense against grapevine pests. Cover crops are frequently employed to minimize erosion and enrich biodiversity, and manure or compost may be substituted for synthetic fertilizers. However, this is still a “reasoned struggle,” and a grower retains the right to use whatever means necessary if the threat requires it. In the absence of certification, the exact meaning of necessity is left to each individual’s sense of reason; thus, lutte raisonnée and lutte intégrée are not dissimilar from the “sustainable” viticulture of the USA—often the techniques are honestly intentioned, but sometimes they are just marketing smokescreen.
Lutte Biologique (Organic Viticulture): In Burgundy, some producers take it a step further and forswear the option of synthetic applications entirely, choosing to cultivate organically instead. Some do so without any oversight, but others choose to gain certification, through third-party organizations like Ecocert. At the close of 2012, the BIVB estimates between 8-12% of the entire Burgundy vineyard is cultivated organically (or biodynamically); the number grows each year.
Biodynamic Viticulture: Has emerged as an important topic in modern Burgundy. Domaine Jean-Claude Rateau was the first estate in the Côte d’Or to adopt a biodynamic approach—way back in 1979—and the movement gained steam in Burgundy by the late 1980s. The ever-growing list of biodynamique producers in Burgundy now includes heavyweights like Domaine Leroy, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Domaine Leflaive, Vincent Dauvissat, Comtes Lafon, and Comte Armand. Many are Demeter-certified; others are in the process of converting some or all of their parcels to biodynamic methods. However, it is not always possible to farm in this fashion: among Burgundy’s fragmented vineyards, it is arguably much more difficult to truly adhere to biodynamic (or organic) tenets if your neighbor’s vines are treated conventionally.