In the orchards the rows are grassed
Discover Calvados → Eco-responsibility

An eco-friendly

In line with the Normandy Region’s envir­on­ment­al health and eco­sys­tem vital­ity policy, the Calvados pro­duc­tion eco­sys­tem is in com­plete sym­bi­os­is with its environment.

The Calvados orchards

Calvados has 8,000 hectares of orchards dedicated to its production spread across Normandy. These are enough orchards to cover the equivalent of 27 Central Parks!

A chickadee wanders through the orchards
Great Tit © Lionel Hesry

In this time of cli­mate emer­gency, these 3 mil­lion trees act as excel­lent captors of green­house gases. Some estim­ate that the carbon sequest­ra­tion in a cider or perry apple orch­ard is in the range of 35 to 50 tonnes of carbon/hectare over a 25-year period.

The wide diversity of fruit vari­et­ies ensures the sus­tain­ab­il­ity of the har­vests and a high res­ist­ance to cli­mate vari­ations. Orch­ards also create hab­it­ats for living organ­isms. Their hori­zont­al and ver­tic­al struc­ture provides a diversity of hab­it­ats and resources to encour­age biod­iversity: shel­ter in the winter, repro­duc­tion, food.

A hundred-year-old pear tree in the surroundings of Domfront, in the Orne departement
Pear tree in full flower © G. Houdou
A cow enjoys the spectacle of the pear trees in bloom
Bonjour! © G.Houdou
Remarkable beauty of a twisted trunk of a pear tree
Trunk of a pear tree © G. Houdou

The orchards are home to an abundance of fauna.

The apples and pears are grown in the heart of the Normandy bocage, and sev­er­al spe­cies of birds thrive here, par­tic­u­larly tits. These birds act­ively con­trib­ute to the nat­ur­al pred­a­tion of cer­tain pests.

Obser­va­tion centres also show that there is a great­er pres­ence of earth­worms in an orch­ard than there is in a vine­yard due in par­tic­u­lar to the grass­ing of most of the plots.

The soils are there­fore richer and better able to absorb the rainfall.

Pollination is also essential to the orchards' production mechanics.

The apple tree cannot pollinate itself…

…and each orch­ard must there­fore rely on bees and other pol­lin­at­ing insects to ensure the long-term viab­il­ity of its fruit har­vest. In spring, during the flower­ing period, the Normandy orch­ards are buzz­ing with bees!

The orch­ards’ abil­ity to provide hab­it­ats for pol­lin­at­ors is estim­ated to be 4 times great­er than that of field crops, par­tic­u­larly cereals.

Bees entering a hive
Perfect alignment of high-stemmed apple trees
A typical Pays d'Auge orchard

In terms of water usage, irrig­a­tion is pro­hib­ited in the orch­ards and the water con­sumed in the making of Calvados remains fairly low. A large volume of water is used for the wash­ing of the fruit, but this is very often in a closed loop.

Lastly, orch­ards have vari­ous advant­ages when it comes to pre­serving the soil and com­batting erosion: strong, dur­able root sys­tems that enable a good fix­a­tion of the soil, per­man­ent grass cover in the rows and inter-row areas, little plough­ing of the soil, etc. In France, water erosion is respons­ible for the loss of 1.5 tonnes/hectare of soil each year.

In addi­tion, the AOC eco­sys­tem provides an import­ant guar­an­tee that the local area, native spe­cies and tra­di­tion­al know-how are being respec­ted. Wheth­er cer­ti­fied organ­ic or not, Calvados pro­duc­tion ensures a low level of phytosan­it­ary product use with mixed farm­ing ensur­ing that nat­ur­al fer­til­isa­tion takes place, thanks not­ably to livestock.

The amount of lost fruit is rel­at­ively low through­out the pro­duc­tion chain: it is estim­ated to be less than 5%. In the Calvados industry, the pro­du­cers are uncon­cerned about the aes­thet­ics of the fruit (in terms of its shape, colour or con­form­ity) and phytosan­it­ary products are there­fore not needed to con­trol the fruit’s appearance.

Lastly, the pro­cessing of apples and pears pro­duces many by-products includ­ing pectins, animal feed (for live­stock in par­tic­u­lar), fer­til­isers or anaer­obic digestion.

The Calvados economy

With deep roots in the Normandy region for 5 cen­tur­ies, the Calvados industry is essen­tial to the vital­ity and dynam­ism of the Normandy towns and vil­lages, in terms of both their agri­cul­ture and their economies.

Comprising more than 300 SMEs and micro-enterprises, and over 4,000 fruit producers, it is estimated that nearly 5,000 direct and indirect jobs are generated by the Calvados sector.

This extensive local network allows these companies to work in close partnership with all the fruit producers in the area, both large and small.

Apple harvest, in the fall, with a tractor
Harvesting in the orchards © O.Vauvrecy

The supply of fruit to the dis­til­ler­ies is gen­er­ally form­al­ised by means of a con­tract, which also provides some secur­ity and con­tinu­ity to all parties.

These days many dis­til­ler­ies are now act­ively engaged in some form of “spir­its tour­ism” activity.

Every year, nearly 300,000 vis­it­ors from France and abroad visit the Normandy dis­til­ler­ies, some of which even boast “Entre­prises du Pat­rimoine Vivant (Living Her­it­age Com­pany) status.

With private tours, cock­tail work­shops, pic­nics and vari­ous other activ­it­ies on offer, tour­ists are learn­ing more about Normandy spirit pro­duc­tion and under­stand­ing the her­it­age value of the orch­ards that are an integ­ral part of the countryside.

Because in Normandy, these orch­ards really do con­trib­ute to the aes­thet­ics of the land­scape and have a very strong sym­bol­ic and spir­itu­al value. They are cre­at­ing more and more leis­ure and tour­ism oppor­tun­it­ies that con­trib­ute to the vital­ity and dynam­ism of the local area. 

  • 3 000 000 trees
  • 300 Calvados producers
  • 13871 hl of pure alcohol sold in 2023
  • 5 million bottles sold in 2023
  • +3.3 % sales increase since 2021
  • 51% export sales

What is the Angels’ Share?

The “angels’ share” is the pro­por­tion of the volume of a spirit that evap­or­ates during its ageing in bar­rels. Over the ageing pro­cess, the alco­hol con­tent will gradu­ally decrease. 

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