Pol Roger is committed to higher environmental and social standards.
The company totally complies with existing legislation and produces once a year several major documents monitoring the existing situation and the target to be achieved.
The production of wine, whether it still or sparkling, can be polluting. Pol Roger has been investing significantly in recent years to improve its production facility and this has had a major positive impact on the environment.
The Pol Roger vineyards. Pol Roger, as well as the Pol Roger family, own slightly above 92 ha of vineyards. 95% of this vineyard holding is now managed by “viticulture raisonnée” (meaning that the treatments take place depending on the weather while their quantity is determined by the height of the vines and the possibility of potential vine diseases) following the standard of production established by the Comité Interprofessionnel des Vins de Champagne (CIVC).
Almost half of our vineyards (41ha) belong to the so-called “Magister” network managed by the CIVC. Its purpose is to advise the producers on environmental friendly ways to fight against the diseases of the vines and thus avoid unnecessary use of pesticides and fungicides. For example, 70% of our vineyard uses sexual confusion strategy to combat the grapevine moth. Small pheromone capsules about the size of a finger containing are placed strategically throughout the vineyard. Even though the female releases her scent, the male is unable to find her. Although time-consuming and costly, this is a sustainable way of combating pests without using harsh insecticides.
Erosion is also a major issue in the vineyards. We belong to several “associations syndicales autorisées” allowing the financing of hydrological works to control the adverse effect of heavy water run-off.
Finally, 100% of the surroundings of our vineyard is covered with grasses and flowers. The species have been carefully chosen to encourage more biodiversity and attract more pollinating insects. (Blend of wild flowers essentially often mixed with an inert substance like sand or vermiculite to ease the seeding process for the seeds must not be buried in the ground but only be left on the surface for them to grow smoothly).
We do not have any wine-presses but all the press houses we are dealing with are controlled to ensure that they comply with the existing regulations concerning the effluents which will be sent to water-treatments plants or the solid or liquid by-product which will be distilled.
Depending on the structure and size of the pressing center, the controlling is either ensured by a « cahier d’épandage » meaning that the structure commits itself to gather all its effluents in a basin before spreading them on local agricultural fields according to a strict and dedicated plan. Or, the structure is connected to the closest water treatment plant. In both cases, they are bound to enforce the existing regulations set by the state.
Pol Roger is also fortunate to use 30 different press houses to press our entire grape production meaning that there is no batch of grapes of which travels further than 3 km. This results in less potential oxidation for the grapes as well as reducing the number of vehicle movements.
Our cellars, located on the Avenue de Champagne in Epernay, are now some of the most modern in the region with state of the art stainless-steel, temperature-controlled fermentation tanks. Following the renovation plan started in 1999, new blending vats have been installed to help us reduce water consumption even further since they are also fully temperature-controlled. This constitutes the latest part of the renovation plan in the vat room.
In 2008, when we stopped spraying water on the vats to cool them down and switched completely to thermo-regulated vats, we managed drastically to reduce the water consumption from 8000 m3 per year down to 3400 m3 per year (1,05 litre of water per bottle produced down to 0,58 litre in ten years). It went a little more up to (0.66 L per bottle) lately because of the washing system of the new bottling line which however, offers many other great advantages as described further down.
Pol Roger is always looking at new ways that would allow us further to cut our water use. In this respect we now only use water that is injected with CO2 (eau écobullée) and in which acidity has been increased in order to reduce limescale deposit on the sides of the vats and therefore reduce the volume of water required to clean them.
From 1999 our effluents were sent separately sent to a specialist water treatment plant managed by the city of Epernay and its region. Early in 2002, we were told that the quality of our effluents was such that they could be now routed to the normal sewage system thus reducing cost and environmental impact.
We are also using “lighter” champagne bottles (900 gm down to 835 gm) which are cheaper to produce and ship. These were introduced in 2010 and are now in broad circulation in all our markets.
Our shipping cases and the moulded trays to hold the bottles are now produced from recycled cardboard. We are now systematically, wherever possible, recycling by-products such as tartrates, unused bottles (about 1.5 % of our production) as well as broken bottles, corks, capsules, cases and pallets.
In terms of renewable energy, Pol Roger replaced, in June 2015, a gasoline-powered car by an electric car for all its short distance trips, essentially inside Epernay and the surrounding area. This car has an autonomy of over 90 km. We will be installing 3 charging points at our office for this car in June 2019. These chargers will be used by at least one Pol Roger Employee who moved to electric cars this year.
At our UK subsidiary, Pol Roger Ltd., we have started investing in hybrid-cars for our sales team. At present we have three hybrid vehicles on our fleet; making up 43% of our fleet in the UK. As a company, we do also encourage company car drivers to opt for low emission environmentally friendly cars. We also have a member of staff who regularly cycle to work and we have arranged for our landlord to fit a proper bicycle stand to enable secure storage of cycles during the day.
In addition to its vineyard holdings, the company also owns 384 ha of woods which are managed by the “Centre Régional de la Propriété Forestière”. Two plans were established to manage:
– 147 ha in Beine-Nauroy and Epoye where we are re-introducing some indigenous broad leaf species instead of the existing conifers (contract signed on September 15th 2002)
– 237 ha in Berru and Nogent l’Abbesse where we leave it free for the local population to walk through (foot-path in England). Part of this wood is included in “Natura 2000 Marais et Pelouses du Tertiaires au Nord de Reims” because it contains limestone marsh land, dry lawns as well as very rare carnivorous plants (contract signed on April 6th 2005).
Since the Berru forest overflows with many varieties including hazel, hawthorn and sweet chestnut, Maison Pol Roger has introduced beehives in some of its holdings over the past two years. Contracts have already been signed with two beekeepers on March 31st and April 11th 2017. Beehives are now in a 40m2 parcel called « Voie Biscotte » and in a 100 m2 one called « Les Ruelles ».
In order to maintain biodiversity around the production center and the Chateau located in the city of Epernay, Pol Roger has welcomed seven additional beehives in the House’s garden. For the first year of operation in 2018, 384 kg of honey were produced and are being offered as gift to visitors of the estates.
Last but not least, for the renovation and the construction of our new packing facility and shipping center located next to our currents buildings in Epernay, we are working with architects and engineers to integrate photovoltaic solar panels on the roof to be used for the heating system for instance and help us reduce our reliance on fossil fuels always more. Being aware of the positive role renewable energy might give to our business, we try to favor it anytime we can do so.