Gard: under difficult times, the Château de Naste cultivates a love of the land

Winemaker Ludovic Armand diversifies his activities by growing cereals and lavandin.

Ludovic Armand’s grandfather was the manager of the land he now loves, the Château de Naste, in Saint-Gervais. “My father started as a farm worker here in 1964”. He, the son, put all his energy into surviving and developing the surgery that was in his guts.

Over the years, the winemaker has diversified the production on his land. It now consists of 70 hectares of grapes, 12 hectares of corn seeds and 2 hectares of grains (barley, wheat). And three years later, he launched lavandin, which is 20 acres in all!

Climate and economic hazards

The difficult nature of viticulture, climate and economic dangers, pushed him into this new adventure, even if the vine remained the heart of his love of agriculture. “We have this Covid, Ukraine, Brexit and three consecutive years of freezing [le domaine a connu 25 % à 70 % de perte]. It’s hard. Marketing is complicated… Especially for most. In corn seeds, right now, when we sow, we know how much we will receive per hectare. The goal is to work as hard as possible to achieve the basic yield. In bonuses when yield and quality are more important. ”

The winemaker has a contract with Top semen, a union of agricultural cooperatives, “to produce varieties of corn, for livestock consumption or for flour”. This applies to “do your best”. And for this, he mixes the latest knowledge.

Third Harvest

This year, Ludovic will harvest his lavandin for the third time. He started with 5 ha in 2019. 20 ha is all he planted. “I asked. At the time, lavandin essential oil was sold at € 34 per liter” Meanwhile, prices have dropped… to € 10 per liter. While he still hopes for a certain income and peace. “We’ll keep a range of 17 to 20 €.”

He took his lavandin to a distillery in Drôme. The essential oil is sold mainly in the store made by his wife, S’Armand. Lavandin grown in Saint-Gervais finds its place in soaps made by Roquemaure or artisanal candles from Garn.

“I take these lands, it’s a challenge to keep them beautiful”

Other projects have revived Sonia and Ludovic’s hearts, such as making bed and breakfast. “But the banks didn’t follow through.” The business has three employees, including their son. Adaptation and diligence are not enough.

“We are always under stress. Right now I think but my heart aches – I give so much to this land – if I do not reduce the area cultivated, leave my son on the farm, and work elsewhere. However, this cannot be resolved: “I take these lands, a challenge to stay beautiful, let it go if I love this job …”

It was a happy combination of circumstances that allowed Sonia to create her boutique project. It sells wines from its counterparts in the sector and of course the nectars born of the Château de Naste that make up the Côtes-du-Rhône within the Maison Sinnae and Saint-Laurent-de-Carnols.

Ludovic also vinified the cuvées in a private cellar. Times have also been tough for this project. However, Armand continues the adventure, relentless and with a big smile.

Le S’Armand, local products and evening

It’s “her baby”. Sonia Armand runs full-time S’Armand, a wine cellar and a store of regional products, “a regional panel”. “We have this building, on the side of Barjac road, to renovate. I want to build a wine cellar. My husband advised me to expand with local products.”

Le S’Armand opened in July 2019. March 2020. Containment. “To get through, we made aperitif kits using Joncas manade for charcuterie.” Since then, the business has never grown. “I paddle! I do parties to diversify. But I find it harder to attract people.”

This summer, it organizes one night a week, themed nights, with beautiful views of the vineyards and hills.

In the program : Thursday July 7, “Barbecue food truck” in the evening. Thursday July 21, Italian evening with chef Pasqualino and Sweet Tandem concert. Thursday 28 July, “Food truck B’Burger” evening. Saturday August 6, “Paella rose and food” night with DJ Giorgio. Thursday August 11, “Food truck B’Burger” night, Sweet tandem concert. Friday August 19, “Brasucade and oysters au gratin” evening, with DJ Giorgio. Thursday August 25, “Barbecue food truck” evening, concert with Sweet tandem. By reservation on 06 98 32 86 65.

In July and August, S’Armand is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon and from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The entire farm is certified High Environmental Value.

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