Spain is the largest producer of organic wine in the world, so the decision to turn organic feels quite natural. Our goal is to obtain organic EU certification under the supervision of the Catalan Council of Organic Production (CCPAE). It takes three years to convert a vineyard to organic, after which the EU logo for organic products can be used.
Many of the vineyards in Catalonia practise organic farming, but only a fraction of them have official certification as the process is considered expensive and complicated. The local wine farmers do not make wine themselves, they sell the grapes they grow to the local wine cooperative. The grapes are produced industrially to maximise the yield in kilograms per hectare. Wine cooperatives don’t usually have a payment system that rewards the quality and characteristics of the grapes, but pay the growers by the kilo. The land that we have bought has been farmed by winegrowers using chemical agents to optimise yields. The repeated use of chemicals over many years has depleted the soil.
Growing grapes organically is more expensive, but in return they produce a superior flavour. Organic farming requires more frequent inspection and care of the vines. The organic pesticides are not as effective as chemical controls and treatment has to commence early in the season. Organic treatments do not last as long and must therefore be applied to the vines more frequently.
We are working as hard as we can to restore the soil to its original state by adding micro-organisms and nutrients, such as nitrogen, that have leached from the soil over the years. It is going to take many years and will be a costly process, but it is worth the effort and is a debt that we owe to future generations.