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The Vineyard of the Paris Hippodrome

Updated: Apr 22

Another urban vineyard springs up. Who knew?

I have prided myself in creating a complete census of the hidden vineyards of Paris with my book ‘The Hidden Vineyards of Paris’, but only recently discovered there is a vineyard I missed entirely. And it turns out, it is by far the largest of all the Paris vineyards!

In fairness to my research and ‘The Hidden Vineyards of Paris’, the 5000 vines of the Domaine Paris Gravelle in the Vincennes racecourse in Paris’ 12th arrondissement were planted in April 2022, when the book was already being prepared for publishing. (By comparison, the Clos Montmartre is only 1,762 vines.) But how did we miss this?! Couldn’t see the vineyard for the vines…

I’m still baffled by how this got past my ultra-sensitive vineyard radar. Needless to say, the urban green-scape of Paris is constantly changing as the city evolves and changes, so the Domaine Paris Gravelle will be featured in the 2nd edition of ‘The Hidden Vineyards of Paris’, along with all other vines and vineyards that may be planted between then and now.

Planted to Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Gamay and Pinot Noir over a surface area of 18,900 m², the Domain Paris Gravelle was inaugurated on Friday 29 September 2023. The project began in 2017, when it was selected for the second Parisculteurs competition, an initiative of the Paris City Council to encourage urban agriculture.

Urbagri, chaired by Virginie Dulucq, the daughter of winemakers from the South-West of France, is behind this associative commercial wine project. A fundraising campaign was launched in 2018 to create this incomparable 1.8 ha (4.4 acre) permaculture vineyard in the Bois de Vincennes.

In addition to the Vincennes vineyard, they are developing urban agriculture by transforming the rooftops of buildings, urban wasteland and unused plots of land into market gardens or vineyard production areas. Virginie Dulucq and her teams organise educational visits and workshops to introduce visitors to vine growing and promote sustainable management methods.

A wine-growing and agroforestry ecosystem

The Domaine Paris Gravelle project involves building a wine-growing and agroforestry ecosystem with a 1.8 ha permaculture vineyard, a 1.2 ha edible forest and a garden on the rooftop of the stables. Their aim is to work in a natural way and in accordance with the principles of the circular economy:

– vineyard adapted permaculture to encourage good soil management, cooperation between species and the production of green manure – cultivation of vines on stakes to facilitate the management of permaculture areas – agroforestry adapted to vine growing – the production of preventive herbal teas to care for the vines using in-house herbalism – vermicomposting produced on site – organic production (label Agriculture Biologique + Haute Valeur Environnementale to come) and natural wines will also be produced

Learn how to prune grapevines with UrbAgri!

Location: Bois de Vincennes Duration: 1 hour – Access by public transport: RER A, Bus 77 or Bus 201. Language: French (translations will be offered for those only speaking English)

Join us for this rare opportunity to help shape the future of the Domaine Paris Gravelle, the largest (and most confidential) vineyard in Paris. 

Virginie, our host, welcomes us to the heart of the 3.2 hectares she farms in the Bois de Vincennes, in the northern sector of the Paris Vincennes racecourse.

Learn about the importance of this time of year for vines, how pruning helps the vines and how the choices you make will affect the coming year.

Discover the different pruning techniques used in different regions of France, which lends a practical, pedagogical side to the experience.

Put the knowledge you have gained into practice on a few vines. 

Address: Route de la pyramide – Rond-Point de Mortemart (entrance from the hippodrome parking P2), Bois de Vincennes, 75012 Paris

For details and payment, you need to subscribe to the UrbAgri website, then go to ‘Animations’ to sign on to the Pruning Workshop.

 

Rooftop vineyard in the heart of Paris

In addition to the vineyard in the Hippodrome of Paris, UrbAgri have also planted a vineyard on a rooftop in the inner courtyard of the Municipal Police Department at 1 Place Baudoyer, 75004, directly across from the City Hall of the 4th arrondissement. Planted in 2017 to Sauvignon Blanc, Chasselas, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Gamay and two hybrid varietals, Fleurtai and Soreli, the vines have attained a remarkable level of growth in only 20 centimetres of soil.

The adjacent surface area that was cultivated as a rooftop vegetable garden until this year, will also be planted to vines, but exclusively to a red grape (still being chosen), bringing the number of vines to a total of 260, which is sufficient to make a small quantity of wine. There is also a greenhouse that is currently empty and without a roof that Virginie hopes to recuperate for companion plantings.

We will be following the evolution of these urban vineyards and will continue to update you on other developments in the hidden vineyards of Paris as they continue to grow and expand. In the meanwhile, pruning vines is one of the most important vineyard interventions of the year as it shapes the vine for the coming year.

We will be attending the pruning workshop at the Domain Paris Gravelle on Saturday 9 March and hope to see you there as well. Perhaps not very easy if you’re not living in or around Paris, so we’ll bring you a complete report in an upcoming Substack.

 

Thank you for letting me into your world and for reading the Paris Wine Walks Substack. Your support is invaluable as are your comments, suggestions, critiques, dreams, thoughts and remembrances. A little encouragement goes a long way, so please consider a paid subscription.

 

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