“Echalas” (also known as ‘staked vines’ in English) is a popular vine training method in Cote-Rotie in France.
The Echalas method is achieved by growing a bush vine next to a pole, and having fewer bearers on the crown than a regular bush vine. In the summer, the shoots are tied to the pole. This system allows the grapes be well-aerated while they ripen. Importantly, Echalas does not use wires to hold the vines in place, which ban be obstructive. Instead filtered sunlight can penetrate the canopy from all angles.
Extremely steep slopes benefit from Echalas, as the vines can be easily cultivated and managed manually, and is much more efficient than other trellising. That said, Echalas proves a more expensive method than normal trellising or manual cultivation, hence why you won’t see it in vineyards which are appropriate for these alternatives.
^Here we see the team of Arnoux Lachaux erecting the poles in the parcel of Aux Reignots, where they have introduced Echalas training to the vineyard.
Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux is a family run, Vosne-Romanée based estate. In 2011 Charles Lachaux joined his father Pascal after having completed his studies in wine and working with other estates in the USA, South Africa, New Zealand and Bordeaux. Charles took full responsibility for the vinification in 2012, and has made himself known for his progress in the vineyard, including increasing the percentage of whole cluster fermentation.
The Echalas method is both labour intensive and costly, not to mention almost unheard of in Burgundy vineyards. In short, it’s a bit of a tedious job. Charles Lachaux has just completed the arduous task of replanting a portion of his ‘Aux Reignots’ in high density Echalas. Given his other wise decisions and developments in the vineyard so far, no doubt this is likely to be a success also. Perhaps soon we’ll see a great many followers of this method in Burgundy in the near future!
– Lucy Kelly