From organic viticulture to organic wine
As defined by IFOAM
“Organic agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of the soil, of the ecosystem and of the people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles in line with the local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science because the shared environment benefits from it and to promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all those involved. ”
In 1991 it has been adopted the EEC Regulation 2092/91 on organic farming production method, replaced in 2007 by the new EC Regulation No. 834/07 which defines organic production.
Some of the key points of organic farming:
- Exclusion of synthetic chemicals, which profoundly alter the environment and adversely affect the wholesomeness of the products
- Use of appropriate agricultural techniques, of resistant plants and predator insects against pests
- Growth and maintenance of the natural fertility of the soil, through the use of non-destructive processing techniques
- Adoption of the technique of crop rotation and green manure
- Use of natural fertilizers, thereby reducing the use of non-renewable resources
With these references was possibile to define the wine as “produced from organically grown grapes”
The “organic wine” has been regulated for the first time in 2012. The EEC Regulation 203/2012 agrees upon new rules regarding the production of organic wine, outlining also the methods of vinification, approved by the Standing Committee on Organic Farming (SCOF).
In the cellar there are prohibited or limited practices. The contents of the Regulation provide for a series of restrictions in the use of certain oenological practices and adjuvants during the vinification. An organic producer can use approximately half the number of adjuvants that can be used by a conventional producer. In organic viticulture we work for prevention and we respect the raw material.
Certainly, within the limits, each organic producer will follow its own specific behavior, using wine-making practices that are closer to the personal concept of “sustainable agriculture.” How can we define “organic” wine? These are some key references:
in the vineyard, we produce organic grapes, grown without the help of synthetic chemicals (fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, pesticides in general) and without the use of genetically modified organisms;
in the cellar, we do the winemaking using only the oenological products and the processes authorized by Regulation 203/2012.
With organic wine regulation we definitely come to an important point of arrival but we must continue in the direction of ensuring the continuity of the process through the production of technical and scientific data in order to improve the existing regulations.
The Organic District
The Organic District – promoted by AIAB, Italian Association for Organic Agriculture – is a geographic area naturally suited to organic farming where farmers, citizens, tour operators, associations and governments came to an agreement for the sustainable management of resources, starting from the organic model of production and consumption (short chain, buying groups, organic public canteens). In the organic district the promotion of organic products is combined with the promotion of the territory and its peculiarities in order to achieve the full development of their economic, social and cultural power.
With the realization of these experiences, the organic viticulture results as a tool that exceeds its connotation of exclusive agricultural application, becoming an agent of eco-sustainable development of the territory, as well as social innovation, territorial and cultural agent. The organic philosophy becomes a tangible example of a green economy and a responsible way of life.
Primary targets are of the district are the increase of awareness in using bio-degradable and compostable materials during public events, education on nutrition in schools with organic canteens, and the management of public spaces (parks) avoiding the use of synthetic substances.
The collaboration between research and Panzano Winemakers Association to promote the organic viticulture
In 2005 it has been applicated the Ministerial Decree nº 32442 of 31 May 2000, which provides for the Mandatory Fight to “Scaphoideus titanus”, vector of the Golden Flavescence, a disease that causes enormous damages to the vineyards.
To prepare a strategy that would allow to limit the use of insecticides, not included in the organic production method, the Winemakers Association of Panzano in Chianti asked for the support of the agronomist Ruggero Mazzilli, and together, they decided that it would have been appropriate to monitor the symptomatic plants in the territory to understand the real danger of the pest spreading in their areas. The monitoring was then carried out with the scientific support of the CRA of Florence and University of Pisa and thus was avoided the use of insecticides that, besides being useless in the absence of a real epidemic risk, would also be very harmful to the environment and human health.
During the following years, in addition to continuing the monitoring activities, the controls were extended to the other vine diseases, with the aim of promoting and spreading the organic production method.
It was also created a network of meteorological data collection, in collaboration with various research institutes. Through these collaborations, it has been obtained the avoiding of chemical weeding in the streets and on the banks of rivers by local authorities, another step towards compliance with the organic farming method.
To increase the effectiveness of organic farming techniques used in the vineyards, Dr. Ruggero Mazzilli, with its Experimental Station for Sustainable Viticulture, works to promote the aggregation of producers belonging to the same area, following the example of the collaboration with the Winemakers Association of Panzano in Chianti.