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Organic Viticulture in Europe

Willer, Helga; Häseli, Andreas; Levite, Dominique and Tamm, Lucius (2002) Organic Viticulture in Europe. In: Canadian Organic Growers (Ed.) Proceedings of the The 7th international Congress on Organic Viticulture and Wine. August 20-21, Victoria, Canada, Canadian Organic Growers, Victoria, Canada.

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Organic agriculture is a thriving sector in Europe, and in some countries 10 % of the agricultural area is organic. Not so, however, for organic viticulture: the percentage of organic viticulture land compared to all vineyards is lower than for organic agriculture. This is due to several constraints in the sector of production techniques, in marketing, legislation and state support.
Material and Methods
So far no official data on the current status of organic viticulture in Europe exist. Even though most countries in the Europe collate data on their land under organic management, information on land use patterns is not always available. For this paper several information sources were used including various conference proceedings on the subject and the results of a survey among experts.
Results and Discussion
According to a FiBL-survey in Europe almost 60 000 hectares of vineyards are managed organically (end 2000); corresponding to ca. 1.6 percent of all vineyards. The main producing countries are Italy, followed by Spain and France. Highest percentages of organic vineyards compared to conventional vine land are reached in Italy and Portugal (both 3.4 %). Growth of the organic vineyards is, however, not as fast as that of organic land in general. This is due to several factors:
• With the organic cultivation techniques an optimum balance between pest and predators is enhanced and diseases are reduced. Some major problems have, however, remained for the organic wine growers. In all European countries fungus diseases like powdery and downy mildew (Uncinula necator and Plasmopara viticola) and grey mould (Botrytis cinera) pose particular problems to organic wine growers. Research is urgently needed in order to find efficient copper substitutes.
• According to many experts the only long-term solutions to the fungus problems are interspecific hybrids. Several wine (blind) tastings with traditional and fungus tolerant varieties have shown that the sensorial quality of the new varieties can even be higher than that of the traditional varieties.
• The Southern European countries produce organic wine mainly for export. In France for instance, 70 % of the organic wine is exported. Germany is the biggest market for organic wines in Europe, and here 70 % of the wines consumed are imported. Even though the market for organic wine is growing, especially in Northern Europe, the information about the quality of organic wines still needs to be improved. In many countries, organic wine producers have successfully taken part in “conventional” wine tastings.
• In almost all European countries, organic viticulture is subsidised under the various agri-environment programmes. The payments differ however substantially between the countries; the amounts paid per hectare and year ranging between 500 and 900 Euro. These sums cannot cover the extra costs involved in the organic farming system. Also, the differentiation between the subsidies for integrated and organic farming is far too small, and therefore the incentives for wine growers to convert their land is not sufficient.
Organic viticulture has clearly trigged many innovations in conventional viticulture. Many techniques which were developed by organic viticulture are applied by conventional wine growers. Several challenges, however, need to be tackled in order to increase the organic vine area and attain growth rates similar to those of organic agriculture in general:
1. There are still no satisfactory solutions to various diseases and pests. Fungus diseases are a pan-European problem, and efficient copper replacements still need to be found, and research efforts need to be increased substantially. A solution to the fungus problems are the interspecific hybrids, for which further breeding efforts are urgently needed.
2. State and EU-regulations hindering wine growers to plant these varieties and market the wine derived from their grapes need urgently to be changed.
3. Organic viticulture is not subsidised adequately in any European country. Organic wine growers need higher subsidies in order to compensate lower yields and the higher labour input. The differentiation between integrated farming should be greater in order to provide sufficient organic conversion incentives .
4. The labelling of organic wine is still not satisfactory. It should be possible in all European countries to declare on the label that a wine stems from organic viticulture in order to strengthen consumer confidence.
5. Information on the quality of organic wines should be improved.

EPrint Type:Conference paper, poster, etc.
Type of presentation:Paper
Keywords:organic viticulture, production, marketing, challenges, Bioweinbau
Agrovoc keywords:
Subjects: Crop husbandry > Production systems > Fruit and berries > Viticulture
Research affiliation: Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Crops > Crop protection
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Communication
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Crops > Special crops > Winegrowing
Deposited By: Willer, Dr. Helga
ID Code:2586
Deposited On:18 May 2004
Last Modified:27 Oct 2021 09:47
Document Language:English
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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