In 2013, the city of Dijon purchased an agricultural holding of 160 hectares called the Domaine de la Cras, situated just outside the city limits. The previous owner had already built a cellar and planted 8ha of vines (5ha red and 3ha white) on land classified Bourgogne AOC, with the possibility of planting an additional 13ha. A call for propositions was organized to decide who would be in charge of the vinification. The main criteria were:
1. The vineyards were to be organically cultivated.
2. The winemaker must be a young winegrower, but not from an existing winegrowing family.
3. He must agree to open the domain to the public for educational visits.
In 2014 the “winner”, Marc Soyard, was chosen. The city of Dijon gave him free rein to live on the domain, look after the vines, produce and sell his own wines. Marc Soyard “pays” rent to the city with 2000 bottles per year. The city of Dijon has chosen other young farmers to manage other projects on the remaining 140ha of the Domaine de la Cras.
But who is Marc Soyard ? From a non-winemaking family in the Jura, Marc worked for six years at Domaine Bizot in Vosne-Romanée as crop manager (managing the vines). He also worked in the cellar with Jean-Yves Bizot to better understand the wine-making process. It was therefore logical that Marc would adapt the same natural philosophy as the one he learnt at Bizot to the Domaine de la Cras. All of the vines are therefore cultivated organically using biodynamic practices. Depending on the vintage, the reds are part-clusters or 100% clusters. The wine is made with natural yeasts and minimum sulphur addition. Ageing is a traditional combination of new and used barrels, with numerous experiments. The official appellation of the domain is “Bourgogne AOC”, but the Domaine de la Cras is the only producer authorized to use the designation “Coteaux de Dijon”. Marc Soyard produces two reds and two whites. The “Coteaux” wine comes from the lowest-altitude vines, while the “Cras” wine” comes from the steepest, best-facing vines at a higher elevation. Marc also personally owns two small parcels of pinot noir, a little further south on the Côte d’Or, Red Bourgogne vines near Ladoix which he calls “Hermaïon”, and a second parcel of Hautes Côtes-de-Nuits