French Hemp Winery. Say what?

Original Post: 4th of March, 2013

We here at Flyfaire Wines love to keep on the lookout for the latest innovations within the wine industry; especially when it comes to sustainable vineyard ideas to add to our bucket list.  Upon reading the latest Wine Spectator, we fell upon an article which talked about a very different type of vineyard in the fabulous Languedoc region (a province in the South of France, lying between the foothills of the Pyrenees and the River Rhône). 

As with all things, it’s you things you least expect that surprise you.  This particular vineyard is not different because of its wine (although, I am sure its wine is fabulous), no – it’s because of their cellar door.  Given we are nearing opening our sustainable cellar door (Queen’s Bday Weekend, June 2013); we thought it poignant to chat about this as a comparison idea for a sustainable vineyard.

So, what’s the interesting thing about Château Maris (Château = castle) and its cellar door?  Well, it is that the building is made from hemp and straw bricks!  We at Flyfaire Wines find this an extremely interesting concept given hemps potential (i.e.: Flyfaire Wines is referring to the low-THC varieties) to provide farming with a sustainably sourced ingredient for all sorts of uses.  Château Maris vineyard, for example, gives the reasons that hemp doesn’t require any irrigation, any fertilisation, and that it has rapid root-growth that helps it control soil erosion (a crucial issue for Australia).

Our Vigneron, Les Hanel, has often touted the benefits of using hemp in farming to produce such products as clothes, rope, paper, oil from the seeds, and many other uses.  Given hemps hardy nature and ability to growth with minimal intervention (e.g.: barely any water, a huge plus for Australia’s climate) – it could provide Australia with a useful, sustainable, and eco-friendly alternative to many conventional types of farming production in use today.  This is especially true given the increasing use of fertilisers, the huge soil erosion problems facing Australia and the salinity problems just to name a few of the many agriculture issues facing Aussie farmers today.

Returning back to Château Maris, the hemp bricks that were used were combined with straw and lime to harden them for use in the building (see image below).  The surprising thing that is claimed by Château Maris is that a chemical transformation occurs whereby the conversion into limestone carbonate will then capture and sequester carbon dioxide over many years.  Essentially, Château Maris’ claim is that the building would consume 97pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) per square metre per annum and would continue to do so for 20-25 years! Wow

Flyfaire Wines

Flyfaire is a sustainable, low chemical and low carbon single block vineyard situated in the pristine Woomargama National Park, NSW, Australia. We focus on low acreage methods to produce high quality, distinctive tasting wines. Our Cellar Door and Café experience provides a pleasurable escape from the rush of everyday life. We feature a seasonal locally sourced café menu that we're sure you'll enjoy. Drop by today to taste one of our vintages and experience our cellar door.