The history of Château de la Grave dates back to the fifteenth century. It was a small winegrowing hamlet that was initially composed of a mansion and various farm buildings, land, vines, meadows and woods until the nineteenth century. In 1868, it was renamed CHÂTEAU DE LA GRAVE when the main house was transformed into a charming castle with a tower, turrets and roof with slender, lively shapes that give it a unique neo-Gothic and neo-Renaissance look.
My great-great-grandfather Constant Bassereau acquired the property in 1910. At that time, it already had ten hectares of vines and produced 120 barrels (tonneaux). In the Bordeaux region, a tonneau corresponds to four barrels (barriques) of 225 litres each, i.e., 900 litres. It is still used today as the unit of reference for the official listing of wines between producers and merchants. In 1912, Constant was called up as a soldier. Helped by other courageous wives of winegrowers, his wife took care of the vineyard until the end of the First World War. Their son, Robert, saw the arrival of the first tractors, which replaced oxen in the 1950s. Mechanisation... It was a revolution! This made it possible to expand the vineyard and produce more wine. The winery now has 45ha of vines and produces the equivalent of 220 barrels. My grandfather, Pierre-Yves, raised our wine’s profile in France and abroad, especially in England and Belgium. In 1990, my father took over the property. As someone who isn't afraid to overturn the established order, he has created new, original and atypical cuvées and imagined original blends that we are continuing together to this day.
We are located on the Gironde estuary's right bank, 35km north of Bordeaux, in the heart of the Côtes de Bourg vineyard. Historians trace the wine-producing vocation of our region to around the second century, the period in which the Romans planted the first plot of *Vitis Biturica*, the ancestor of Cabernet. In the Middle Ages, the village of Bourg-sur-Gironde was a vital wine port, and its estuary vineyards expanded in step with the rhythm of life and river trade.
Our 45ha vineyard grew during previous generations, but we have always kept the woods and meadows. Today, we are once again keeping animals on our land, as in the past. In this way, I wish to create a new agricultural balance based on common sense by reconnecting with the ecological and human benefits of eco-grazing. Our horses and sheep are now helping us control grass cover among the vines from October to April, and we are recreating meadows - orchards in the vineyard.
Producing wine is not just about the harvest period. It is a long-term job that begins as soon as the leaves fall in November with the vines' pruning. The wood falls to the ground, where it is crushed and incorporated into the earth. After pruning, the next step is binding: the branches that are still flexible are attached to the trellis wire to channel the plant's growth and promote the grape clusters' sound development. In April, the buds begin to open, and the first leaves form and develop. This period also marks the beginning of branch growth. Next come the spring-time jobs of suckering and lifting, which will end at the beginning of August when the twigs stop growing and become lignified to form bark and reserves for the following winter. Simultaneously, the bunches of grapes change colour; this is known as the veraison and marks the beginning of the fruits' ripening period. It takes about 45 days to reach an adequate level of ripeness, around mid-September. The date of the harvest will be decided according to the health and the ripeness of the grapes. It can vary by a few days from one year to the next, and the harvest is spread over three weeks. Harvesting has been done by machine since 2005. Our entire team (8 people in all) works in the cellar, receiving and sorting the grapes, filling the vats and barrels and cleaning the cellar and equipment at the end of the day. After the harvest, the pace is less intense, and the pressure of bringing in the crop subsides. Only three people remain to monitor the fermentation process and carry out all the racking and blending work. For white and rosé wines, the grapes are pressed upon arrival to the cellar and, once they've settled, the juices are put into barrels for fermentation. They will stay there for 6 to 7 months until bottling.
We have always chosen to adopt agricultural practices that respect nature. We do not use any chemicals, chemical fertilisers or herbicides. Our work is based on preserving plant and animal biodiversity, which is so fragile and useful and of extraordinary richness. To this end, we maintain forests, thickets, hedges and fruit trees on the winery.
In 2020, we committed to converting our vineyard to organic farming. This carefully considered approach will prolong our HVE3 certification and is now undoubtedly the path of the future for our terroirs. We take pride in better production practices and respecting natural balances.