Organic viticulture is a concept that has gained significant prominence in recent years as a sustainable alternative in wine production, embracing environmentally friendly practices. At Bodegas Ferrera, we have been advocating for this approach for over 80 years, committing ourselves to the preservation of the environment where our vineyards thrive. However, climate change has posed significant challenges to this form of agriculture, compelling the wine industry to find innovative solutions.
What is organic viticulture?
Organic viticulture is a vine cultivation approach based on sustainability principles and respect for the environment. Instead of relying on synthetic chemicals, it focuses on natural and organic agricultural practices to maintain vineyard health. This involves minimal or zero use of pesticides, herbicides, and artificial fertilizers, while promoting biodiversity, soil management, and preservation of water resources. The goal is to produce high-quality grapes while minimizing negative impacts on the ecosystem, resulting in authentic and healthier wines for both people and the planet.
The Impact of Climate Change on Organic Viticulture
In recent years, this global phenomenon has significantly affected organic viticulture. Rising temperatures, extreme weather events, and changes in precipitation patterns have created challenges in vineyard management. In the Canary Islands, these changes have become evident, affecting grape production and quality.
At Bodegas Ferrera, we have witnessed these effects and adopted a proactive approach to address environmental challenges. Ultimately, we have committed to implementing sustainable and regenerative practices to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change on our vineyards.
Consequences of Climate Change in Viticulture
- Acceleration of vine bud break and harvest, reducing the plant's growth time and potentially causing imbalances between the ripening of phenolic and sugar components in grapes.
- Increased pressure due to water scarcity and temperature rise, impacting vine development, metabolic functioning, grape composition, and aroma. This leads to higher risks of spring frosts, hailstorms, droughts, floods, and sun damage, potentially causing harm to vine vegetative and reproductive parts and resulting in production losses.
- Changes in geographical distribution and more frequent appearance of pests and diseases, potentially requiring increased use of phytosanitary products or preventive measures.
- Modification of typical wine characteristics and quality, potentially influencing color, acidity, alcohol content, structure, balance, and varietal expression.
Innovative Solutions to Climate Change
- Efforts are underway to use native or improved grape varieties that are more resilient to water scarcity, temperature variations, pests, and diseases, with longer maturation periods.
- Consideration is given to changing vineyard management practices, including trellising systems, pruning, irrigation, fertilization, soil work, and pest control, optimizing water and nutrient use, improving soil quality, fostering biological diversity, and regulating the vineyard's climate.
- Variations in cultivation landscapes by incorporating complementary crops, hedges, trees, or plants that enhance carbon absorption and retention, reduce soil erosion, protect the vineyard from adverse weather conditions, etc.
- Implementation of technological innovation using digital tools, sensors, predictive models, or early warning systems to facilitate vineyard monitoring and management, as well as decision-making based on objective information.
- Promotion of collaboration among stakeholders in the organic wine sector, including producers, wineries, certification bodies, government entities, and research centers, to share knowledge, experiences, and resources to enhance adaptation to climate change.
Regenerative Agriculture in Viticulture: A Sustainable Solution
Regenerative agriculture emerges as a promising solution to counteract climate change effects in viticulture. This methodology goes beyond conventional organic farming, focusing on restoring and improving soil health, promoting biodiversity, and capturing atmospheric carbon.
In our specific case, through techniques such as cover crop planting, organic compost application, and reduced use of chemical products, we have strengthened the resilience of our vineyards against adverse climate impacts.
Sustainable Enotourism Experiences
In addition to a sustainable focus on winemaking, we have integrated ecological principles into our enotourism experiences. Visitors have the opportunity to closely experience our sustainable agricultural practices and taste wines made from responsibly cultivated grapes.
Climate change poses a global challenge for organic viticulture but also offers opportunities for innovation and positive change.
In a constantly changing world, organic viticulture and regenerative agriculture stand as fundamental pillars for preserving our natural environment, ensuring the continuity of quality wine production, and enjoying authentic and sustainable enotourism experiences.