Going green in the vineyards?

by Eve Resnick on December 8, 2009

in General

Those last few months I’ve been collecting information on green winemaking, biodynamism, and sustainable development. Not so much because I thought about writing about it but mostly because I was curious about this trend after tasting many organic wines.

This lead me to Olivier Dauga, a winemaker and consultant in Bordeaux, whom I met during Vinexpo. Dauga amazed me when he said he didn’t believe in organic winemaking because of the use of copper. Equally, biodynamism doesn’t sit naturally with him – because, “as a concept it is too complicated”. What’s the solution? Biotope! According to Dauga, it “means working the vines in harmony with nature, and thinking of the vineyard as part of a wider natural estate.” For example, it can lead to protect some pre-phyloxerra vines that are still growing on sandy soils, and still producing grapes from ungrafted vines. Everywhere, it is about taking into account the natural flora and fauna, and not engaging in winemaking practises that would be harmful to them.

What’s the difference with green winemaking? Not much if I believe Dauga’s latest project: his Green Winemaking Charter. According to the press release, “The Charter looks at key stages across the entire winemaking cycle, and suggests concrete ways to optimise energy consumption, to reduce dependence on non-renewable sources of energy, to phase out use of herbicides, to apply prevention rather than cure measures against disease, to respect treatment thresholds, to encourage biodiversity, and to ensure reduced use of sulphur in the cellars.”

“There are many practical ways which ensure clean, clever winemaking and keep the quality of our wines paramount,” says Dauga. “Part of the solution is using sensible viticulture such as clearing weeds away manually and not using treatments, and partly it is understanding as new
technologies evolve to help us find ecologically-sound solutions. Part of my job with this charter
will be to ensure my clients know not just what is out there, but what is coming.”

Dauga’s project could help the wine makers to reduce their production of carbone and lead to a cleaner way of making wine. No exciting technology behind the project, just common sense but very useful in our crazy world!

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