A great Sauternes vintage for Ted

Un grand cru classe de Sauternes pour Ted

The Château d’Arche estate is betting on Ted to maintain its exceptional environment 

The high-clearance weeding robot Ted is continuing its expansion among wine-growers in the Bordeaux region. In order to accelerate its action to protect biodiversity, the Château d’Arche estate has chosen Ted to reach its sustainable development goals. This is the chance to better understand the motivation of this centuries-old vineyard which, after having worked with Ted for some weeks, has already integrated it into its future projects.

Located in Sauternes, the Château d’Arche Grand Cru estate, listed since 1855, is both traditional and also strives constantly towards the excellence. Having produced remarkable wines for generations, the estate is continuing its conversion to organic farming on selected plots.  It is here, on a 9-hectare plot, that the Ted robot has been working since May 2020. “We are constantly looking to improve our business globally and sustainably” points out Didier Galhaud, the estate’s General Manager. Conscious of current challenges, the estate is strongly committed to limiting the use of inputs and to looking after the well-being of its employees.

Developing responsible œnotourism 

A 9-room hotel in the centre of the estate is an attraction for tourists. “We want to create an environment suitable for our clientele, offering peace and silenceand allowing them to take full advantage of our exceptional environment”. Ted contributes to the calm of the vineyard surroundings. “It’s important for our hotel clients and also for respecting the homes close by. We want everyone to feel good.” highlights Didier Galhaud. Coupled with the work carried out using horses, the estate is resolutely looking to mix respect for tradition and innovation.

A committed workforce

Ted is continuing its work among the vines. “I’m delighted – it’s great!” says Jérôme Cosson, the Château d’Arche Field Manager. “I’m quite surprised how easy it is to use. Very little training is required to be able to learn how to use the robot” he adds.  For staff, the arrival of the robot is a new motivating project. The younger generation is interested, but in the end all our employees feel involved in this experiment. “We’re proud to be able to widen our employees’ skills sets as we have trouble finding people for working on the land” explains Didier Galhaud.

A faultless start

In the early stages, Ted worked on a rectangular plot without any major difficulties. “The robot works well and does extraordinary things, like an about-turn at the end of the row”.  The field manager is imagining its move on to more difficult land. “The implementation offered by Naïo Technologies is very professional. It’s gratifying working with them. The team is present on the estate and listening to us in order to find solutions and adapting the robot to the estate’s needs” confides Jérôme Cosson. He’s looking further: “We may soon be able to do the weeding 24/24 at a sustained rhythm and are already tabling an early start in 2021. To eliminate weeds such as mallow, deadly nightshade and dandelions, it makes sense to work the soil regularly”.

A close-to-optimum weeding solution

On the Château d’Arche estate, “the vines must be clean” the field manager hammers home. For him, the interest of the robot resides in its lightness compared to its power. “The quality of the weeding work is obvious, nothing to add”. When working in the vines, he has noticed very little breakage at the foot, unlike with classical high-clearance tools, and confirms: “The robot precisely follows the axis of the vine, while a tractor deviates more easily.  The robot travels forward very regularly and is easily manoeuvred.” The Managing Director concludes: “It’s very encouraging and is a new wind of change for our profession. We want to extend the experiment”,

Ensuring the well-being of his employees, those living close-by and his clients, sustaining the excellence of its terroir and its wines: this is the ambition of the Château d’Arche estate, to which the Ted robot is contributing now and, it is hoped, for much longer yet!