Wine can be sustainable and the Alentejo wants to prove it

The Alentejo region, well known for the quality of its wines, has created a Sustainability Program for producers to adopt more environmentally friendly winemaking.

Created in 1989, the Alentejo Regional Wine Commission (CVRA) is dedicated to certifying, controlling, protecting and promoting Alentejo Wines. With the objective of promoting the sustainability of the wine sector in the region, the idea was to create the Sustainability Program for Alentejo Wines (PSVA), becoming the "only wine commission in Portugal with a public commitment assumed in this theme", stresses João Barroso, Manager of Sustainability of the CVRA.

The Alentejo Wines Sustainability Program is directed to the grape and wine producers of the Alentejo Wine Region and was developed based on sustainability indications for the International Wine Organization (OIV) sector. Its contents were jointly developed by Alentejo producers, the University of Évora and the Technical Association of Winemakers of Alentejo.

João Barroso explains that the Collective Sustainability Plans are "a common practice in some world wine regions", with several markets beginning to demand "guarantees of the application of sustainability principles" - such as the USA, Brazil, Switzerland, Canada and Scandinavia.

Membership of the Program is free of charge and provides producers with various incentives for material sustainability (including an evaluation manual produced on paper and recycled paper with soy-based inks), on-site implementation assistance, consultancy , training and study visits for the observation of good practices among program members. The program assumes, among other measures, the use of solar energy in the production of wine - the Alentejo being one of the zones with the longest sun exposure in Europe.

"Sustainability is not a fashion"

He explains that the agricultural sector in the last decades has been marked by a growing monopoly of chemical products (herbicides and pesticides) and hydrocarbon derivatives (petroleum) and increased productivity at low cost.

The use of natural resources, such as drinking water, is another problem: "There has never been a national water-saving policy, and awareness-raising campaigns for industry or civil society have been punctual and focused on heights of scarcity.".

However, João Barroso observes that "Traditionally this sector has care about the environment and sustainability. Many producers consider themselves caretakers of the Earth, "adding that they received this" mission "from their parents and want to transmit it to their children and grandchildren. Consumers themselves are increasingly looking for "products that are environmentally friendly without presenting ethical conflicts".

"Sustainability is not a fashion. It is the new paradigm of the 21st century, "he says," companies and people who do not internalize that natural resources are not infinite and that we have only one planet, will be overcome, "he concludes.

Vinhos do Alentejo 2022