Clos Rocailleux where we live and work is in rural South West France in the Commune of Andillac. Vines are a major part of life here (102 people and 115 hectares (284 acres) of vines) – everyone has a useful piece of advice to pass on!
We have 16 hectares (40 acres) of land on a limestone plateau about 300 meters above sea-level. The vines cover 7.5 hectares (18 acres) in 9 separate parcels. A big advantage of being relatively small is that we’re able to be hands on at every stage in the vineyard – from the all important pruning to carefully choosing our optimum harvest dates.
Each parcel of vines has a slightly different aspect, soil (predominantly stony, well drained clay and limestone) and micro-climate and there’s lots of potential here. Working day-to-day in the vineyard we can completely see and feel what “terroir” means.
The land surrounds our home and winery. This is great particularly at harvest time when grapes can reach the press or tank within just a few minutes of being picked so avoiding oxidation and retaining freshness.
We’re passionate about preserving and enhancing the land and its crops for the future. We’re using sustainable practices in the vineyard, keeping wildlife margins around the vines and exploring other ways in which we can respect and improve this beautiful environment. In 2017 we were proud to be certified as a farm complying with the highest environmental standards under the French Government’s demanding “Haute Valeur Environnmentale” scheme.
Climate – Never a dull moment
The weather at Clos Rocailleux is a battle of wills between 3 weather systems, one Continental, one Atlantic and one Mediterranean. We hadn’t fully appreciated this before we arrived in Andillac and it certainly makes life interesting. We had temperatures ranging from -12 to + 42 degrees in 2012 and double the 15 year average rainfall in the first 6 months of 2013. We also have pretty amazing storms blowing through including every farmer’s nightmare, hail storms, which can and do destroy vines in seconds. We’ve had dramatic and devastating first hand experience of this in 2013 loosing all the crop in a great syrah parcel in less than 20 minutes of hail. April 2016 gave us many nervous moments as several hail storms swept through the area bringing back memories of 2013!