History

The Domaine de la Ferrandiere is situated on the site of an ancient maritime lagoon between the Corbieres and Minervois areas, 40km from the Mediterranean sea. The salty soils are different from surrounding terrain and require particular methods of culture.In order to eliminate the excessive salt content in the soils which damage vegetation, the vineyards are flooded once a year: When French vineyards were destroyed by the Phylloxera disease at the end of the 19th century, our lagoon bed vines resisted as the Phylloxera aphid did not survive regular flooding.Moreover, experience has shown that the thermal protection provided by the presence of important quantities of water reduces the damage caused by spring frosts. For these reasons, our vines are flooded for 40 days per year during the spring. This unique technique enables us to continue to plant vines without the need to graft on America.

The history of the drying of the Marseillette lake is very old. Early attempts date back to the 16th century. Later; renowned agronomists from the famous region of Languedoc, advised Henry IV to drain the Pond of Marseillette for financial interests (social development, acquisition of new land); Thus he decreed the immediate drying of the lake.But the operation was long and difficult; it soon became obvious that more was needed than just drying out the lake. It had to be irrigated with freshwater to lower soil salinity, and make the land cultivable ; but at the time this seemed an insurmountable obstacle.

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The lake is initially abandoned before other projects are started again later.It was not until 1851, with the construction of a tunnel-canal linking the river Aude to the lake that the project could be considered as finished. To the west of the village of Marseilette, water from the river was diverted via the tunnel passing under the Canal du Midi, near the hamlet of Naudy which then allowed successful cultivation of the soil.

Operation : 1

The Tunnel of Naudy

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Water used to fill the canals surrounding plots of land and enabling vine irrigation comes from a natural dam formed in the Aude River near the town of Marseillette. It passes through a 2135 meter long, hand dug tunnel before issuing into a network of ditches that can then flood the lake.

Operation : 2

Water Distribution

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Three water channels distribute the water evenly by gravity over the entire pond. Two surround the Pond, one to the North, the Other to the South, with a third called “the colmatage channel” running directly through the middle.

Operation : 3

Irrigation

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This system must work correctly for crop growing to succeed, allowing both irrigation and flooding.

Operation : 4

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Water runs down a channel alongside a particular plot of land: the stream is asymmetrical, once full, it flows naturally down on the lowest side to flood.

Result

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It only takes a few hours for the water coming from the Aude river to submerge the plot of land, remove any excess of salt and irrigate the cultivated plots. 

The Water Network

Management of the water network is provided by an association that includes all those who use it. It controls the infrastructure, maintains and improves the network and organises the allocation and distribution of water. Each user contributes to the funding as a proportion of the area they cultivate.