I am in Vilafranca del Penedes in Spain, at the fourth Ecosostenible Wine conference, where I have been a participant.
It’s a technical conference examining organic wine production, sustainability and climate change. The discussions today were wide-ranging, covering aspects such as replacing copper in organic viticulture, life cycle assessments of the carbon footprint of wooden versus steel end posts, EU regulations (the boring frustrating bit – it takes 5-7 years for new regulations to be passed because 46 member states have to agree and lots of people make a living out of these sorts of extended discussions and committees), and new tractor engines the massively reduce carbon emissions.
One thing was clear, though. The current regulations surrounding organic viticulture are too limited. Given the climate crisis we are facing, if you want to be sustainable and green in your wine production, the carbon footprint of wine production, and factors such as water use efficiency and waste water processing need to be included in any assessment. How can a winery boast about working organically when that very same work results in an increased carbon footprint? And is it acceptable for organics to allow copper fungicides when these accumulate in soils and reduce microbial diversity?
We need a more clearly thought out, scientifically rational, holistic approach to ‘green’ wine production. Organics has a great name check value, so I think it would be fantastic if organics could embrace all aspects of sustainability, including carbon footprint, and revise the approach it has to dealing with fungicides. Allowing sulfur and copper products seems arbitrary and indefensible.Without any fungicides, wine production would not be possible.So there needs to be a compromise, and the existing compromise is unsatisfactory.
On another topic, I’m staying at a remarkable hotel – Mas Tinell. It’s really luxurious and beautifully designed (it has only been open a short while). The hotel design is based on Cava bottles stacked up together, and each room represents one bottle. The window is spectacular, with its bubble design, looking out onto the vineyard. It’s winter, and raining, so the pictures I took don’t do it justice. The hotel’s website shows just how cool this place really is.