The horse – a marketing tool or a genuine interest for the Estate
For some years the horse has made a remarkable come-back on wine estates. Users are nevertheless either accused of being crazy or nostalgic or accused of using them for communication purposes. What is really all about ?
It’s true that on medium-sized estates (over 20 hectares) and on low value-added plots, a working horse would not be very profitable compared to the tractor. The cost factor varies from 1 to 20 if the estate calls upon a service provider and from 1 to 10 if the estate owns their own horse.
Using a horse can however be valuable in very specific conditions: vineyards on very steep slopes where driving a tractor would be impossible and requires using a hoist, wineries of several hectares with top wines where investing in a tractor doesn’t seem worthwhile and where the additional costs of having a horse can easily be incorporated into the price of the bottle.
Without considering the price, a horse can also be better than a tractor due to its agronomic impact. On very fragile grounds where the tractor weight tends to compress the soil, therefore reducing its agronomic potential, the horse can do this work in a more delicate manner, keeping the soil “alive”. This has absolutely no price.
To conclude, communication doesn’t really seem to be the principal reason for wine-grower – the latter don’t see the horse as helping to save the planet but more as a means to preserve their soil and the stand-out from their colleagues at a time where technological progress has allowed for everyone to make good wine (or nearly everyone ...).