Duval-Leroy: A Leader in Sustainability
Winemaking begins in the vineyard, the saying goes, so it naturally follows that thoughtful, low-impact grape-growing practices are fundamental to any winery’s sustainability efforts. That’s certainly the case for Duval-Leroy, but the family-owned Champagne house doesn’t stop there.
The winery’s commitment dates back more than two decades. Carol Duval-Leroy took over the family business when her husband, Jean Charles, passed way in 1991, and just three years later the winery had become the first Champagne house to receive the certification standard ISO 9002.
In subsequent years, the winery built on that standard for quality assurance in production, and it now has a wide range of systems and programs in place that put it at the forefront of sustainability.
In the Vineyard
Creating a living, thriving natural environment is at the heart of the winery’s sustainable viticultural practices in the 500 acres of estate vineyards it controls. These vineyards provide 40 percent of the house’s fruit, a scale rarely found in the Champagne region.
To preserve microbial life, use of pesticides has been reduced by 50 percent in favor of mechanical weeding. Soil is regularly tested and enriched with organic fertilizers. Winter (and in some places permanent) cover crops also provide protection and sustenance.
Common disease threats in the vineyard are approached with the goal of using as little as possible of the least toxic products. Techniques used include computer-controlled spraying to regulate the amount of product used, and use of alternative, non-toxic insecticides like pheromones that disrupt pest reproduction.
An onsite solar installation produces 19,000 kilowatt-hours annually, covering the electricity use in the barrel rooms, tasting room and reception area.
Duval-Leroy works to reduce waste and to recycle packaging materials. This extends to empty packaging collected by suppliers and cardboards and metals onsite.
Winemaking can be water-intensive, but at Duval-Leroy its use is minimized. On the bottling line, for example, micro-filtering and UV treatment allow rinsing water to be recycled, leading to a 30 percent reduction in water use. In the cuverie – fermentation room – special stainless steel tank surfacing reduces the use of water for tartar removal.
Duval-Leroy wines go in bottles that are produced using minimal energy: They are locally produced, use lighter glass, and at least 70 percent of the glass has been recycled. The corks that go in these bottles come from forests certified for their stewardship practices.