29.10.2020

Domain life

Jérémy Chereau

Jeremy Chereau; Tractorist, team manager at Domaines des Mariniers

Ever since joining the house of Joseph Mellot in 2012, Jérémy Chereau has become a tractor driver emeritus, and it is always with pleasure and concentration that the thirty-year-old climbs into the straddle tractor cabin.

Tractors used in viticulture have the specificity of being designed to straddle over the rows of vines, hence their name. With their very high centre of gravity, they are difficult to drive, and can only circulate in the vines when the soil is stable. When the soil is soggy, it is impossible to use this vehicle, with the risk of soil compaction, or slipping, which could damage the vine, the equipment or cause the tractor to roll over.

 

Before climbing onto the seat of his straddle tractor, Jérémy sets out to observe and study the soil and vines, to make the right decision. “It’s very important, because a job well done, a land worked properly, a well-followed parcel…  promotes the vegetative cycle of the vine, and thus the quality of the grapes.” And this could not be truer for Domaine des Mariniers, in AOC Pouilly-Fumé, which has begun its conversion to organic farming.

The 4 seasons of a tractorist

The viticultural year begins with spring, with mechanical weeding: depending on the vigour of the vine and the slope of each parcel, the tractor weeds under the row with a tool called “Interceps”,  and sometimes in between the rows, using a “Canadian”. This work continues throughout the summer.

He then does the manual “green” work on the vines, such as pruning and trellis work, for ex. lifting the wires to straighten the vine branches.

At the same time, from June to August, the straddle tractor is used to trim the vines to shorten the length of stems for example, and to mow the vegetation that grows between the rows.

Jérémy, in consultation with Laurent Goussard, vineyard manager at the house of Joseph Mellot, decides after observation,  certain preventive actions carried out only if necessary, and in accordance with the rules of organic agriculture: “copper against mildew, sulphur to fight against the development of oidium. And that’s it,” says Jeremy.

At the beginning of September, the time comes for the harvest, which is done mechanically at Domaine des Mariniers. Again, as with each intervention, it takes experience to make the right adjustments that will allow the grapes to be harvested without damaging the vine. For a good 15 days, the harvest is in full swing, depending on grape ripeness. Parcel by parcel, and after grape analysis, the date of harvest is decided collegially with Laurent Goussard and Norbert Buchonnet, cellar manager and winemaker at the house of Joseph Mellot.

Once the harvest is over, the tractorist returns to the vineyards, to pull up the dead vine stocks and dig to prepare for the future planting of young vines.

After the manual pruning of the vines in January and February, the woods are drawn and scattered in between the rows in a continuous strip of branches, which the tractorist grinds in the winter and early spring, providing the soil with organic matter.

In the middle of winter, before the resumption of a new vegetative cycle, Jérémy returns with his tractor to the parcels, and proceeds, if necessary, to apply manure or organic fertilizer to prepare the soil, promoting the good growth of the vines.

“I love my job, because we always look after the same vines, but the tasks are varied, and each of them makes sense. The only difficulty is knowing how to make the right decision at the right time,” concludes Jérémy, who leads the small team of tractorists at Domaine des Mariniers.

4 questions to Jérémy Chereau, tractorist, team manager at Domaine des Mariniers

Your favourite scenery of the vineyards and the Loire?

From Saint-Andelain, we embrace a great view of our vineyards, Sancerre and the banks of the Loire, it’s simply beautiful. I also really love the banks of the Loire for their wild side and the views they offer, and vice versa, the Loire that we see meandering from the vineyards.

Your favorite season?

Winter! For its morning white frosts, which transform the landscapes, especially when the weather is cold and dry and a ray of sunshine makes the frosty vegetation sparkle. And also for the silence that reigns over nature: it is a sort of peace, a calmness I love, a suspended moment in time.

Your favorite cuvée?

Our Pouilly-Fumé AOC Le Troncsec, which I love very much. I appreciate it by itself, or with a good Crottin of Chavignol AOP. At the table, it is undeniably my favorite wine with fish, especially with a beautiful wild trout.

Your daily eco-responsible gesture?

In my personal life as at work, I make sure that I never consume more than necessary.

 

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