Q & A: Sustainable Viticulture
What is sustainable viticulture?
Sustainability is based on the premise that we must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Therefore, stewardship of both the natural and human environment is of prime importance. Sustainable farming systems are biologically-based and designed to be productive in both the short and the long term.
Sustainable viticulture is – ecologically sound, economically viable, and socially supportive. Because it is more a philosophical approach to viticulture than a set of farming practices, the specific practices vary depending on the specific environmental and social issues important to an appellation. Therefore, it is important that all of those interested in making viticulture more sustainable – consumers, growers, environmentalists, farm workers, winemakers, retailers – educate themselves on the related issues.
How does Vinea’s sustainable viticulture practices compare to organic and biodynamic farming practices?
Viticulture can be “sustainable” without being “organic” or “biodynamic”. Also, some organic or biodynamic operations may not be sustainable. Organic farming certifies that the grower has excluded the use of any synthetic agricultural chemicals. Biodynamic farming combines the tenants of organic farming with practices that are intended to influence the metaphysical aspects of the farm (such as increasing vital life force), or to adapt the farm to natural rhythms (such as planting seeds during certain lunar phases) as well. However, approaches to management of healthy soils can be similar between the different farming systems.
Does moving towards sustainability mean a lot of changes for a grower?
Transitioning towards sustainability is a process. The amount of change for each individual grower depends upon their current farming practices. Transition normally requires a series of small, realistic steps that can easily be incorporated.
How are sustainable viticulture practices beneficial to grape quality?
Healthy soil is a key component of sustainability. A healthy soil will produce plants that have optimum vigor and are less susceptible to pests and disease. While vineyards have particular pests that attack even the healthiest of plants, proper soil, water and nutrient management can help prevent some problems brought on by plant stress or nutrient imbalance. Sustainable viticultural practices improve soil quality resulting in a more efficient use of water nutrients and pesticides to optimize grape quality.
What kind of sustainable practices apply to vineyard management?
The Vinea system describes an appellation specific, collaboratively designed sustainable vineyard system. It addresses soil, water, pest and crop management, as well as has resource protection, wine quality and quality of life for those within the industry. It is a technically based, flexible approach to educating and guiding growers towards more sustainable viticultural practices.
What is meant by “social sustainability”?
It is acknowledged that all aspects of sustainability, natural and human, in the Walla Walla Valley are interconnected. Social sustainability means that we will show concern for and sensitivity toward the environment and include the well being of our employees in the vineyard and winery. That extends to being good neighbors and demonstrating this by showing concern for and sensitivity toward the public and all living things.
**Adapted from the **
Central Coast Vineyard Team