Southern Rhone, France: Vignerons d'Estezargues
Les Vignerons d'Estezargues is a southern French cooperative based in the village of Villeneuve-les-Avignon in the Gard region of the Rhone Valley. It was founded in 1965 and consists of 10 independent vignerons who farm a total of 420 hectares. They receive grapes from members and then make wine from them in large batches from many different vineyards blended together with the focus on producing wine in quantity rather than quality. Les Vignerons d’Estézargues takes a fundamentally different approach; starting in 1995 the ten different growers in this co-op began to vinify their wine separately and make single cuvées from their best plots. On the heels of the single cuvée project, Les Vignerons d’Estézargues began to practice natural winemaking – possibly one of the only co-ops in the world to do so. They use no cultured yeasts, no filtering, no fining and no enzymes during vinification or aging and only add a small amount of SO2 at bottling.