Being organic is becoming an important and everyday part of our lives that it even has a whole month dedicated to it!
Almost 10% of all vineyards in France are now working organically. Around a third of our winemakers in France, Tuscany and New Zealand are certified organic. There are a number of others either going through certification (it takes three years) or who practice organic viticulture. However, some do not seek the certification due to the ‘increased paperwork and admin’ required.
To be an organic winemaker basically means that the grapes are grown in an environmentally friendly way. This means that no synthetic fertilisers, herbicides, insecticides and fungicides are used and that is certainly a good thing. Also, the winemaker ensures that the natural balance in the vineyard and surrounding area are maintained in an environmentally friendly way.
The 2018 harvest concluded in September for one of our Tuscan vineyards, Montechiaro, and everything was picked by hand!
It was a good year both for quality and quantity in the vineyards, especially compared to last year. Every year has its challenges in the vineyards. 2018 was quite a humid year, with lot of rain from spring until Autumn, so they were battling different diseases in the vineyards.
However, this is all part of being dedicated to Organic winemaking practices. Alessandro Griccioli, winemaker at Montechiaro, tells us that “there are all sorts of wildlife amongst the vines, from different insects as well as birds and their nests. Seeing them flourishing in the vineyards really makes you proud to be organic and sustainable. There is a lot more work involved with these sorts of practices but in the end it is worth it.”
Nearly all the winemakers we talk to say that they want to promote biodiversity. They also want to provide a better environment for themselves and their children. Many are of course concerned about using potentially harmful chemicals and naturally there is the cost involved too.
The difficulty however is that in recent vintages, the weather has been so extreme (frosts, hail, draught, extreme rain, extreme heat), that being organic has been a real challenge. We know of three vineyards that had to relinquish their organic status in order to apply sprays to combat mildew and rot, allowing them to produce some grapes. It’s a bit like snakes and ladders; once you resort to chemicals, you go back to square one and it takes three more years to achieve organic certification once again. That’s tough!
Winemakers do it because they’re passionate about their special ‘workplace’ and want to preserve it for their children and grandchildren. Above all, organic producers feel happiness in knowing they are ‘doing the right thing.’ That is important to them.