The SW Summary: On Alentejo’s new sustainability certification, changing winds in the vineyard, canines for pest control, and more

By Hanna Halmari
Portugal’s first four wineries receive Alentejo’s new sustainability certification

A press release published in The Wine Industry Advisor announces the new sustainability certification in the Alentejo region in Portugal called the Wines of Alentejo Sustainability Program (WASP). Led by Portugal’s Comissão Vitivinícola Regional Alentejana (CVRA), or Wines of Alentejo, the WASP certification requires qualifying wineries to meet at least 86% of 171 criteria covering areas of sustainable viticulture as well as social responsibility.

With the certification requirements initially released in August 2020, the following four wineries are the first to be accredited: Herdade dos Grous, Herdade de Coelheiros, Herdade dos Lagos and Casa Relvas. A further six wineries are expected to become certified in early 2022. Read more about the certification here.

Changing winds: How vineyards can (and must) adapt

Writing for SevenFifty Daily, Sophia McDonald takes a closer look at one of the less-discussed factors in viticulture: wind. Whilst wind is acknowledged as a factor in the vineyard, its effects and impact are not widely understood. From reducing the risk of mildew to the worsening of wildfires, the pros and cons of wind vary largely across wine regions.

However, the impacts of wind are changing as the planet warms. Climate change is driving more extreme variability in the strength, temperature, and unpredictability of wind events. As a result, vineyards are now faced with increased severity and frequency of windstorms, reduced diurnal shifts, and changing wind patterns.

So how can winegrowers “[manage] the impact of changing winds” and protect their vineyards? McDonald talks to a number of growers who recommend investing in more robust trellis systems and growing vines closer to the ground, following the vite ad alberello pruning method, increased irrigation, and planting “biological windbreaks around vineyards.” Read more here.

Canine colleagues for pest control

From explosives to narcotics to truffles, dogs are highly skilled at a variety of scent detection work. In Wine Enthusiast, Jen Reeder discusses the potential of detection dogs for vine protection and quality control. With their powerful sense of smell, dogs can be trained to detect pests and contaminants in both the vineyard and winery. By sniffing out fungal diseases and mealybugs in the vineyard, dogs can provide an effective and ecological alternative to pesticides, 

Reeder also shares how in 2012, the team at TN Coopers in Chile successfully trained a number of Labradors to check wine barrels for TCA, the chemical compound responsible for wood and cork taint. The success of the scent-detection program encouraged TN Coopers to train more Labradors, who have now been hired by Chilean and Argentinian wineries “to inspect warehouses and shipping containers.” To read more about how detection dogs can help the industry, click here. 

English sparkling wine brand The Uncommon achieves B Corp status

Canned sparkling wine brand The Uncommon has recently joined wineries Symington Wine Estates and Viña Concha y Toro as a B Corporation. Writing for the drinks business, Eloise Feilden reports how The Uncommon is the first UK wine company to receive the rigorous B Corp certification, which “covers five key impact areas of governance, workers, community, environment and customer.” Co-founder of The Uncommon Henry Connell shares how “[they] achieved a high B Corp score due to [their] fully domestic supply chain, commitment to local production, and support of local conservation projects and the environment.” Read more here.

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About the author

Hanna Halmari

Hanna Halmari is the editor at Sustainable Wine and the head of conferences at Innovation Forum. Hanna specialises in sustainability research and events across various industries. She holds an MSc in international development from Kings’s College London, where she developed a strong interest in political economy and post-communist transformation. Hanna speaks Finnish, Bulgarian and English. In her spare time she is a dedicated Radio Lollipop volunteer at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, enjoys travelling, and tasting new wines.