It’s perhaps not what we’re known for, but Ambriel is proud to be carbon neutral. Why? Well, because sustainability simply benefits everyone – us, because our land gives us great wine, you, because you can consume said wine if you are so inclined, and the land, because it can continue to give us the wine in question! Unsure? Feel free to buy a bottle!
How are we carbon neutral?
Being carbon neutral means that we know how much carbon we produce and compensate for it by reducing carbon in the atmosphere in other ways, the most notable of which obviously being our vineyards and the trees we have planted around them, which suck up a lot of CO2. This ensures we have no negative impact on the environment. We’re very good at trapping carbon dioxide in our wine – it does have the most lovely bubbles – but you won’t find an excess of it in our vineyards!
What is sustainability?
Sustainability for us is giving back what we take to make sure we can carry on using our land in the future and produce many more vintages: we’re sure 2022 will be an excellent year! For instance, we enjoy planting fruit trees and wildflowers near our vineyards not just because we can take pretty pictures of them (though that is, arguably, the best part) but also to make the area more dynamic and diverse. The flowers encourage pollinating insects and help them along in their noble quest for procreation. Our packaging is recyclable and we overall try to work with our environment as much as we can – ouessant sheep graze our vineyards over the the winter, Golden Guernsey goats keep our hedges in check, and (a bit less fortunately) our home is a haven for spiders.
The benefits of biocontrol
We also prefer biological control to using insecticides. When an insect threatens our vines, we would rather bring in a predator to eat it rather than spraying at it – it’s much more rewarding, to be perfectly honest. When we heard of SWD (Spotted Wing Drosophila) we planted bird cherry to distract the creatures from damaging our grapes. It’s sort of like putting a particularly appealing treat in front of a four-year-old, thereby creating a distraction and enabling you to have a few (precious and infrequent) moments of peace. We’ve also successfully brought in lacewings to eat thrips, small insects who suck up plant’s contents and can sometimes give them viruses. Our vines were healthier than ever after our lacewing army annihilated the enemy!
A little bit of history
We certainly weren’t the first ones to think of biocontrol. We’d love to be pioneering biologists, but we’re sticking with wine for the moment – it’s more our cup (or wine glass) of tea. The first recorded use of insects to protect agriculture was in 304 AD, when ants were wittily used to defend citrus trees from other pests. This practice has continued throughout the years: predatory mites were deployed in 1873 to destroy the nefarious grapevine phylloxera, and seemingly indestructible cacti which spread over 25 million hectares of Australia in 1920 were finally levelled by cactus moths and scale insects introduced for the purpose. Quite a prickly issue! As for vineyards, Cryptolaemus Montrouzieri, a type of ladybug, and Anagyrus Pseudococci, a type of wasp, have been used as effective ways of getting rid of mealybugs. A far cry from Spiderman, to be sure, but these insects are superheroes in their own way. Our feats with lacewings and bird cherry are perhaps less impressive, but made quite a difference in our vines nonetheless!
Our personal 007
We like to think of nature as our bodyguard and number one asset (“The name is Nature. Mother Nature”), protecting our vintages from harm. And it definitely does its job – we are on cloud ten (ahem) about our wines and all the more happy that they are produced without harming the environment. We’ve taken the somewhat overused mantra of “reduce, reuse, recycle” to heart: the one third of our grape production that we do not utilise for sparkling wine is used to make other wine-related products (vermouth, shrubs, wine vinegar…) and we reuse our grape marc to help condition our vineyard soil.
All in all, short of finding a new source of green energy, we’re doing all that we can for sustainability – but maybe a glass of sparkling wine or two could help an aspiring scientist in even that last challenge!