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Cultivated area: 35 acres (14 hectares)

Geomorphology : Altitude of 125 to 130 meters. Sitting at the foot of the Appalachians, on the east side of the Pike River which flows into the Yamaska River west of the Callaghan Brook, the vineyard is situated in the brook’s basin. This basin is a till plain (glacial deposit) barely inclined which slowly rises toward a rocky slope in the west with a gradient between 0 and 2 degrees. The plain is lined with a silt-clay till derived from argillaceous schist and slate reworked on the top 60 cm by the Champlain Sea which incorporated littoral sand and gravel. The till is only between 0,25 to 2 meters deep above bedrock. The rocky slope is composed of thin alterites on rock, a deposit directly derived from the breaking of the argillaceous schists.

Climate : The climate in the wine region of Québec is continental, bringing cold winters and hot and somewhat humid summers. Average rainfall during growing season is 930 mm.

champ de vigne

Spring frosts :
They happen when the temperature on the buds goes down to 0° C. In May 1987 a helicopter hovered above the vineyard for an hour at an altitude of ten meters to stir the cold air. We gained two degrees and were able to salvage the harvest. In the spring of 1989, we installed a French Haltogel system (from the Champagne region) on part of the vineyard to control the temperature with heaters. This protection system can raise the temperature by 5° C and runs on fuel.

Winter frosts :
The Missisquoi climate is characterized by very low minima: -30° C which, as explained in the History of vine growing in Québec, condemns us to protect the plants in winter. Here at L’Orpailleur, just after the harvest, we start ridging-up by pushing the maximum of earth between the roots and then, using the straddle tractor, creating a ridge (between 30 and 40 cm high by 50 cm wide) which will act as a thermal barrier. In 1988 a temperature reading done with probes indicated -6° C 20 cm inside the ridge while the outside temperature was -34° C. Snow cover also helps protect the vines during winter.