Vilafranca del Penedès recently hosted the ‘4th International Conference on Organic and Sustainable Viticulture and Climate Change’ called EcoSostenibleWine 2014. The conference demonstrated that consumers are increasingly concerned with climate change and demand products that go beyond the rigid definition of “organic.” This situation is producing a growing interest that at present is not fully covered by existing certifications. For this reason, the wine sector needs to move towards a new production model based on knowledge and science-based techniques, which takes all environmental factors into account. In order to achieve this, companies, wine producers and public administrations must work together.

By now, a lot of wineries have invested in alternative energy, improving energy efficiency or reducing the use of natural resources. The current legal framework should therefore be flexible enough to include all of these initiatives and should be geared towards producing wines that are more and more “respectful for the environment” in the broadest sense of the word. EcoSostenibleWine showed that the wine sector is ready to assume leadership within this legislative context.
Experts in ecology and environment once again stressed that these new variables must be inherent to an updated ecology concept in order to define a production model that is environmental, socially sustainable and integrated. This new model should address some of the aspects that are of greatest concern to companies and consumers alike – as there is for example climate change - and use them to enhance and reinforce current organic production systems.
The congress’ technical lectures focused on several important topics, such as improving phytosanitary measures in the vineyard. For example, copper treatments have been widely used in our fields for decades and, despite being used in organic vineyards as well, they are not entirely unproblematic. Another topic was the search for alternative solutions with a lower environmental impact to fight pests.
The congress also pointed out the importance that our current agricultural production system should adapt to todays’ effects of climate change. In other words, measures are necessary to maintain the production capacity of the vineyards as well as mitigation measures designed to reduce our carbon footprint. In this regard, vineyard management is not carbon-emission-free, but there are examples of measures that could help reduce these emissions, e.g. changing the materials used for vine training systems from galvanized posts to wooden posts or using farming equipment that runs on alternative fuels.
EcoSostenibleWine 2014 was organised by VIMAC (Vineyard, Environment and Consumer Foundation) and the trade associations Associació Vinícola Catalana (Catalan Wine Association) and the Institut del Cava (Cava Institute) in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, Food and Environment of the Generalitat de Catalunya INCAVI (Catalan Wine and Vine Institute).