Sustainable development is defined as development that meets the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of future generations.Sustainable viticulture is simply the application of this principle to vine growing. It’s all about controlling the flow of material and of energy used, safeguarding ecosystems and preserving biodiversity and the environment. The certification of farms that implement environmentally-friendly practices stems from the work being undertaken by the ‘Grenelle Working Group on the Environment’ (named after the street in which the first meeting took place).

The HVE certificate (High Environmental Value) is undertaken on a voluntary basis; it’s open to any viticultural enterprise using sustainable, organic or bio-dynamic methods and is built around 4 themes:

Biodiversity: this involves the ‘greening’ of areas around the premises, the promotion of grassy embankments and hedges on the estate, the conservation of individual trees and of the soil as well as the encouragement of plant diversity through the use of different grape varietals and different root stocks.

Protection of the vines: reduction of the amount of inputs, traceability, management of vine treatments and the use of alternative practices (such as sexual confusion)

Fertilizer management: regulating the nature and quantity of fertilizers used, tracking the use of nitrogen and controlling the methods and timing of any use of fertilizer.

Management of water resources: preservation of all water sources, be they streams or rivers, and the strict control of all run-off and waste material.

HVE Certification was conceived as a progressive process under the supervision of independent bodies approved by the Ministry of Agriculture.Level 1 involves adherence to various legal environmental requirements and the use of sound agricultural practices.Level 2 involves conforming to a frame of reference comprising 16 elements designed to facilitate the adoption of a structured environmental plan.Level 3 (which qualifies the recipient as being of High Environmental Value) is based on mandatory results. Each estate is evaluated against a series of measures reflecting the 4 principles mentioned above.

HVE Certification is not limited to viticulture which is why the CIVC (The Inter- professional Committee for the Wines of Champagne) is working on the implementation of a separate certificate called ‘Sustainable Viticulture in Champagne’. This is based on guidelines established in 2001 and updated and completed in 2014.This process is still in the validation phase, but will probably operate alongside HVE certification. 

We must wait and see