Metal Giants: Wind Farms and the Chablis Landscape

No wine turbines

“Say no to wind turbines in Chablis!” Courtesy: Vents Contre Air

“No more wind turbines in Chablis. Both winegrowers and the people have had enough!”

This was the subject line of an email that crossed my desk recently. I’m no stranger to wind turbines — the structures are a common sight across Midwestern farmland — so the email caught my eye and I ended up in touch with Julien Brocard, vice president of the association Vents Contre Air and Chablis vigneron at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard.

Brocard and his associates at Vents Contre Air oppose the proposed installation of seven new 150-meter-tall (nearly 500 feet) turbines in the village of Prehy, a stone’s throw from Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard. “The main objection is the visual intrusion, but we don’t know the impact on the frost, hail, etc.,” says Brocard.

“The turbines are a risk for wildlife,” says Brocard. “There is a study which shows that one turbine kills 60 bats a year. Bats are important for managing some insects which eat the grapes. We are in organic farming and it’s beneficial to have bats near the vines.”

Domaine Jean Marc Brocard

Chablis vineyards at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard. Photo Credit: Jean-Marc Brocard.

Brochard and the Vents Contre Air collective aren’t the only ones discouraging the project by Siemens, the company which places the turbines on private property by offering “financial enticements” to the owners of the land.

“Only recently, the overwhelming majority of people who spoke out at the public inquiry headed by the Inquiry Commissioner – who reports directly to the Prefect on this matter – said loudly and clearly: We do not want a horde of metal giants in our garden,” said Jean-Marc Brocard in a statement. “Forcing an entire population to accept their presence is unworthy of our culture and our history.

“Note that the village concerned is absolutely opposed to this project as is the vast majority of neighboring villages consulted. It is just incredible that following this consultation we have ended up with a public inquiry where the conclusions of the Commissioner are in complete discord with the entire population and its elected representatives,” added Jean-Marc Brocard.

Instead of wind power, Julien Brocard explains that most of the population would prefer to “economize electricity than increase production” of power through more wind turbines. “Chablis is not an area particularly appealing for the wind. Burgundy, in general, is not a strong windy area. I think that financial enticements are very strong and push lots of investors everywhere they can,” says Julien Brocard.

According to Decanter, “Although there are currently 24 wind turbines on the hills surrounding the Chablis vineyards, this is the first time that turbines have been earmarked for the vineyards themselves.


Photo by Brett Sayles on

The French Winophiles

This month our French Winophiles group focuses on Chablis and we’ll join together for a Twitter chat on Saturday, April 20 at 10am CDT. Just go to the #Winophiles hashtag on Twitter and join in! Here’s what we have planned:

Cam at Culinary Cam brings us “Cracked Crab, Cheesy Ravioli, and Chablis”

Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles writes about “Mont de Milieu Premier Cru Chablis from Simonnet-Febvre and Pochouse”

Gwendolyn at Wine Predator rolls out “Chablis is … Chardonnay? Comparing 2 from France, 1 from SoCal Paired with Seafood Lasagna”

Liz at What’s in That Bottle shares Chablis: the Secret Chardonnay

Deanna at Asian Test Kitchen writes about “Top Chablis Pairings with Japanese Food”

Jennifer at Beyond the Cork Screw has “French Companions: Chablis and Fromage Pavé”

Payal at Keep the Peas writes about “Chablis: A Tale of Two Soils”

Jane at Always Ravenous has “Pairing Chablis with Marinated Shrimp Salad”

Jeff at Food Wine Click! shares “All the Best Food Pairings with Clos Beru Chablis”

Here on  L’Occasion we share the story of “Metal Giants: Windfarms and the Chablis Landscape”

Susannah at Avvinare writes “Celebrating France with Chablis and Toasting Notre Dame”

David at Cooking Chat writes about “Sipping Chablis with Easter Dinner or Your Next Seafood Meal”

Pinny at Chinese Food & Wine Pairings writes about “A Delicate Pair: Jean Claude Courtault Chablis and Sichuan Peppercorn-Cured Salmon”

Nicole at Somm’s Table writes about Domaine Savary Chablis Vieilles Vignes with Scallops and Brussels Sprouts Two Ways”

Kat at Bacchus Travel & Tours shares “The Delicate Face of Chardonnay: Chablis”

Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm Brings Us “Chardonnay? White Burgundy? Chablis!”

23 thoughts on “Metal Giants: Wind Farms and the Chablis Landscape

  1. Interesting argument against wind turbines. I would have thought that vineyards would be the perfect landscape to pair with these wind farms.


  2. On point! I can understand the concerns. Here in CA we have a similar landscape but with heaps more wind turbines in/near Livermore wine country. There as well the wind farms pose a real danger to birds and bats… this issue was really only being addressed as recently as 2009 – I’d written a paper about this from the perspective of urban planning and implications of growing these wind farms really large.


      1. Sure, happy to share. I wrote it a while ago, ca. 2006/7 so it’s probably buried somewhere in my files. At that time no one was really even talking about any downsides of wind farms… crazy!


  3. Totally agreed with Brocard on this issue. Research in the US has shown that for those living near the turbines, the long-term effects of the low-frequency noise can be anxiety-producing and even traumatic.


    1. Brocard also told me: “Vines are very sensitive and every aggressive perturbation should have an negative impact.” This is something I’d like to research further. So interesting!


  4. Interesting perspective! Not what I was expecting. My first thought was to agree with Wendy, but after reading Spisark’s comment, I realize that as with everything, there is more too it. Time to do more research.


    1. This is a tough one, as France relies significantly on nuclear. I know that the region has wind farming already (20 something turbines) and the Chablis vignerons and the villagers are more upset with the placement in proximity to the vineyards.

      It is such an interesting story to me, as we balance renewables into the energy matrix. Do you have these farms in MN? We have them in some spots as far as the eye can see. I admit I have a lot to learn.


  5. Fascinating. My off the cuff assumptions would be that wind energy would be a good thing, but goes to show just how layered and complex these questions can be! Also, last time I wrote about Chablis it was a Brocard wine. cool to see this new facet to the winery .


  6. Interesting argument on wind turbines farming. This method earns a good reputation of sustainable and clean energy that draws a lot of attention in US the last few years. I remembered I read an article in Popular Science to talk about wine turbines – mostly good things. It’s good to hear both sides of the stories!, pros and cons and compromises!


  7. What a wonderful inside look at the ecosystem of Chablis. I see the tug of war between locals and big businesses very much in California where the latter often wins.


  8. Such an interesting perspective Jill!. My daughter is a wildlife major in college and was telling me that the wine mills kill many birds a year as well. They will most definitely have an affect on the vineyards – I have seen vineyards that use horizontal windmills (think helicopter) to keep frost at bay so there is an impact that needs to be considered for sure.


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