May 29, 2024

Thoughts on Sustainability and Regenerative Agriculture

Reading about sustainability for the umpteenth time might bore many of you already. It feels like an all-consuming topic that is usually only superficially addressed. There’s far more to it than can be squeezed into a brief chat or a quick glance at a website, especially considering our notoriously short attention spans. Besides, there’s so much more we’d love to share about our wines and our work.

For all terroir-focused vintners, the subject is always a central concern that influences nearly every decision. These decisions significantly affect the quality of the wine, rendering the issue far more complex than it may initially appear to consumers. Consumers are confronted with a plethora of certifications and green labels, all promising the same thing but in their own way.  We are often asked what “rules” we follow, the steps we take to achieve sustainability, whether we are organically certified (or why we are not), our stance on biodynamics, or what exactly “Regenerative Agriculture” means, as mentioned on our website. Clearly, the topic has gained significant traction among consumers, and rightly so. The discussion however should extend beyond mere plant protection, which is only a fragment of the entire picture, and it shouldn’t be about certifications either. It’s a deeply engaging and complex subject that could fill hours of conversation. For those interested in delving deeper, we invite you to explore our more detailed thoughts in this “extended” blog post. Let’s dive in:

 

 

Sustainability must be achieved individually. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.

Indeed, it is essential to critically evaluate certifications and regulations, as mentioned earlier, just as we do with many other aspects of life. This is particularly important because we recognize our responsibility toward the land we farm and aim to act accordingly. Essentially, obtaining a certification means voluntarily limiting one’s operational freedom and implementing various mandatory measures, regardless of the wine-growing area one works in or the specific needs of the vineyards at any given time. Some have a natural advantage, others a disadvantage. Sometimes it makes sense, sometimes perhaps less so. Sometimes it’s a marketing compulsion, and sometimes also the conviction to do the best for one’s vineyards and wines. Regardless, plant protection is undoubtedly one of the most debated topics in our industry and often the first—and sometimes the only—consideration when people think about sustainability. This is why we want to begin here. What follows are our thoughts, intended to foster an open dialogue.

 

 

Plant Protection

Most people agree: if it’s sustainable, it should be organic. Indeed, there is often a strong correlation. Each set of regulations serves a specific purpose, allowing only those pesticides deemed “acceptable” by the respective licensing authority based on various findings. The acceptable substances vary depending on the certification one adheres to. In organic plant protection, for example, the aim is to avoid using substances that are foreign to nature. We generally view this positively, and that’s why we have been practicing organic plant protection for a couple of years. As long as the weather cooperates, there are usually no issues, and many positive aspects of this method can be highlighted.

First, the positives: compared to conventional or integrated plant protection, organic plant protection (though its agents are also chemically formulated) allows the vines to play a larger role in their own defense. It enhances the vines’ natural defenses by encouraging them to produce their own protective substances, which should therefore increase their disease resistance over time (though this is difficult to confirm, as we also aim to prevent infections before they can even start). Organic pesticides usually leave no residues in the grapes (though they do affect the soil, which we’ll discuss later). They also contribute less to the development of resistance to pests and diseases. Chemical-synthetic agents can often lead to resistances, complicating the long-term protection of vines and necessitating a specific “spraying sequence.” Organic pesticides are non-invasive, as only “coating agents” are allowed, and none that can be absorbed into the plant’s sap stream to act systemically. The drawback of coating agents is that vine shoots grow quickly, and the coating needs almost weekly renewal. This increases the effort involved in spraying, puts stress on the soil due to frequent traversal, and ultimately is more costly. Under dry conditions, this is not a problem; it is a perfectly good and sustainable system that ensures good crop security. However, under challenging weather conditions, the situation is markedly different. While our experiences are mostly positive, there is a downside that we must acknowledge. So, here’s some criticism:

It’s late May 2024, and we wake up with a sense of unease. The weather forecast predicts continuous rain, just as it has been for the past two weeks and seems likely to continue. We’re also approaching the most critical phase of plant protection—the flowering period. We need to take action. How do we protect our vines and our crop? What steps do we take in the vineyard? This challenging weather situation gave the impuls to write this post. The rain, which we are usually happy about, sometimes costs us a lot of nerves during the biological plant protection season. Whether we are really working more sustainably with this system in such a situation is indeed questionable. Why? For one, plant protection is mostly applied with a tractor, which means entering extremely wet soil to make use of brief dry periods for spraying. The effort required is significant, and the costs are high. Frequent driving under adverse conditions severely compacts the soil, largely destroying its structure and significantly hindering vital soil life and root growth. This damage is challenging to mend and requires considerable effort and time. And though consumers rarely consider it, sustainable viticulture should really focus on our soils. Few things are as crucial. In reality, organic plant protection often adversely affects the soil. Ideally, the soil itself should dictate vineyard management practices. Even in discussions with customers and experts, there tends to be an oversight regarding soil issues.

 

 

Copper

The tractor doesn’t just compact the soil with numerous passes; there’s also the issue of copper. Especially in organic and biodynamic farming, currently, there is no natural alternative to copper as a fungicide. It is used to combat downy mildew, which is one of the most challenging fungal diseases for us to control. The copper ions must be sufficiently distributed on the plant surface to target every spore and prevent germination. The problem arises with rain, which regularly washes off the spray coating, necessitating the use of large quantities of copper during rainy weather phases. Due to its chemical stability, copper does not easily degrade but instead remains bound in the soil, where it accumulates. Over time, the concentration of copper in the soil increases, particularly in the topsoil layers, which is quite problematic due to the ecotoxicological properties of this heavy metal. While copper is a vital trace element for plants, needed for photosynthesis and many other important metabolic processes, excessive copper can cause root damage or lead to dead leaves. High copper concentrations can also harm soil life. Microorganisms and soil organisms, such as earthworms, which are crucial for soil fertility, can be damaged by elevated copper levels, a fact that has been extensively studied (and continues to be). High copper burdens become particularly critical at a soil pH value below 5, as the availability of copper then increases significantly. Paradoxically, this makes copper somewhat incompatible with sustainable viticulture. However, for organic and biodynamic methods, it remains essential due to a lack of alternatives. Thus, the EU has extended its approval. Currently, an average of 4 kg of pure copper per hectare per year is permitted. The allowed dosage has been reduced several times over the past decades, which has become problematic in some wine-growing areas due to higher needs. Because of copper’s significant ecotoxicological concerns, it ranks high on the EU list of plant protection products to be substituted. Not without reason, there’s also a faction in viticulture that rightfully views copper critically. Lastly, it is also essential to raise awareness among farmers and consumers about copper issues. As almost all winemakers depend on it, copper cannot simply be eliminated. As long as no alternative exists, it will remain one of the few effective natural fungicides available to us.

Although, there actually is an alternative: potassium phosphonate. Unfortunately, it was discontinued in 2014 following intense lobbying from wine-producing countries in the south, which generally experience drier weather – likely to make viticulture in our regions more expensive and challenging, thereby hoping to gain market-relevant advantages. The naturally occurring phosphonate is absorbed into the plant’s sap stream and grows with the vines. It protects the vine from within, hence its impressive efficacy, and hence the ban. It acts naturally and systemically. In an unstable and challenging weather situation, this would not only significantly reduce the amounts of copper used but also the number of tractor passes, which would greatly benefit the soil, the vine, and ultimately the quality. This approach would represent optimized, nature-oriented, and ecologically sustainable plant protection. A truly thoughtful system would not dismiss such an option and would take into account the significant variations across different wine-growing regions within Europe. Why is this important?

 

 

Economic Sustainability

In the worst-case scenario, the rigid constraints of organic certification in extremely unfavorable weather conditions can lead to significant crop failure or even total loss. This apparent paradox – intense plant protection with falling yields – highlights the limits of sustainable organic viticulture. If the grapes succumb to various fungal diseases because the protection is continuously washed away and cannot be renewed in time, then viticulture becomes economically unsustainable. In other words, no (small) harvest but full effort, i.e., the full deployment of resources, including financial. This is the most weighty argument that makes us struggle with the certification (although a certain market compulsion is slowly setting in). Organic is certainly not bad, we don’t want to say that, but it’s also not the holy grail of sustainability as it is often praised. Controversial as it may sound to some of you, winemakers should be able to respond to each situation as they deem necessary for protecting yields and soils (although there are definitely some pesticides that should never be used). Thus, using a plant protection agent like potassium phosphonate, which is considered safe and natural, should not be excluded. This debate is actively pursued within the winemaking community, although it largely goes unnoticed by consumers. There is a strong call for the reintroduction of phosphonates. Adjusting this one aspect could make organic plant protection far more appealing and manageable for many wineries, thus providing genuine additional value to the environment, the consumers and the winemakers.

For all those who are interested, here are the agents that we use in plant protection:

Sulfur
Copper hydroxide
Herb and algae extracts
Potassium bicarbonate (baking soda)
Potassium phosphonate (in wet and challenging weather)
Coconut soap
Orange oil

 

 

Thinking Sustainability into the future

In times of climate change, when weather extremes are increasing, many now face the question of what real sustainability should look like. This must be considered both ecologically and economically. Sustainable wine production isn’t just about eschewing synthetic, “non-natural” chemicals for plant protection; it also demands adaptability to preserve harvests under adverse conditions and ensure profitability. And even more importantly, it requires a stronger focus on the soil as the central pivot of the measures. Here lies the next evolutionary stage of sustainable viticulture (which is not only important because good soil can sequester significant amounts of CO₂ and store vast quantities of rainwater).

Yes, for the consumer, certification provides a degree of assurance and bolsters confidence in the product. The prevailing belief is that if wine is certified, its production is presumably less harmful to the environment than uncertified alternatives. While this may often be true, it is not always the case, which is something we need to acknowledge. Sustainability is the result of numerous actions, but it’s important to note that the most significant of these actions lie in soil management. A general suspicion towards “uncertified” wines is therefore unjustified, shortsighted, and superficial.  There are bad actors in both camps. “Organic” is currently at risk of devolving into merely a marketing gimmick, disregarding truly sustainable and soil-improving practices. However, it’s important to recognize that the complexities of viticulture go far deeper than they might initially appear, and the topic is emotionally charged and rife with dogmatic views, which often complicates the dialogue.

 

 

Regenerative Agriculture – Focusing on the Soil

Plant protection is currently at the center of many debates in our industry. However, the main aim of this blog post is to shift the focus from spraying agents and certifications toward the soil. Soil is the fundamental component of the entire vineyard ecosystem and thus the most important lever in terms of sustainability (besides packaging and the weight of the glass bottle…) and quality. The soil and its carbon cycles are within our control, which is precisely why it should be brought more into the public eye.

I believe we speak for many colleagues when we say that as vintners, we want to focus on our vineyards and everything they need, preferably with minimal bureaucracy. This makes “regenerative viticulture” an even more attractive and effective management philosophy. It’s about a holistic approach where the importance of healthy soil is at the forefront. This system automatically incorporates the diversity of climatic and geological conditions found in different wine regions. All actions are customized to maintain the integrity of the soil; plant protection isn’t the primary focus initially. The challenge for certification is to create a framework that allows for diversity, while simultaneously defining clear guidelines for regenerative practices.

Regenerative viticulture involves a mindful and attentive management of vineyards. It’s about observing and understanding natural processes. We can then promote soil vitality, biodiversity, and vine health with thoughtful cultivation practices. This approach fosters a deep connection between the growers, their vines, and the soil. We don’t just encounter pests, diseases, and weeds, but a coherent system of causes and effects that we only need to better understand and can then gently but effectively influence through our cultivating and balancing forces. This close relationship with nature and a deeper understanding of the vineyard ecosystem ultimately create the foundation for thoughtful measures that result in healthy soils and aromatic grapes. These grapes best reflect the character of their origin and the vitality of the soil, and from them, great wines can be produced.

 

 

Collegiality and Knowledge Exchange

For us, the exchange of knowledge with colleagues is also crucial. The current generation of winemakers taking on responsibilities exhibits a high level of intellectual energy. Most are well-educated, have traveled extensively, and have garnered substantial knowledge. They have capitalized on the opportunities presented by our era. This vibrant environment fosters numerous positive developments. Experiences are shared, best practices and scientific insights are debated and refined collaboratively, allowing ideas from all over the world to spill into one’s own vineyard. With a good dose of trial and error, mostly successful.

Ultimately, each of us grapples with determining the ideal method of vineyard management, a concern as prevalent today as it was in the past. Yet, today we benefit from a significant advantage: our understanding of ecosystem mechanisms has evolved well beyond the empirical knowledge of earlier generations and is now firmly grounded in science. Many practices established by our ancestors to maintain soil health remain relevant and sensible today. Other things, such as deep plowing of the soil, proved to be unfavorable practices in light of the latest scientific findings. We draw upon this collective knowledge and these experiences to craft a finely tuned and individually tailored strategy. This strategy encompasses compost management, cover cropping, soil aeration, and landscape design—intelligent measures that ensure both ecological and economic sustainability without restrictions. We adapt our approaches based on the plant, the soil, and prevailing weather conditions. We are deeply convinced of this way of farming and eager to share insights that constantly inform the care of our vineyards and shape the regenerative strategies we advocate.

 

 

Cultivate = Care for the Soil

As vintners, part of our role is to cultivate our vineyards and intervene in nature. In regenerative agriculture, our aim is to minimally disrupt the natural balance and create (or restore) a harmony between nature and cultivation. This includes understanding that soil fertility and soil life are key to a self-regenerating and self-sustaining ecosystem.

The vine, a particularly demanding plant, expresses its origin, the characteristics of its location, soil activity, and overall health through its fruits. It requires ample air around its roots and is susceptible to various diseases. Thus, it is crucial that nutrient-rich, well-aerated soil and vibrant, biologically active soil life provide balanced nutrition, mitigate stress, and enhance the vines’ resilience. Our goal is to enable the vines to draw everything they need for healthy growth directly from the soil. In the interaction of plants, soil organisms, and mycorrhizal fungi, all necessary nutrients can be provided and do not need to be supplied from outside in the form of chemically synthetic fertilizers. The microbial activity, pore space creation, and water retention capacity of the soil are directly connected and can be managed through humus development and the carbon cycle.

The first requirement for this is to create enough space in the soil so that air, water, and roots can penetrate it. Soil compaction, often caused by tractor traffic, can be identified through a simple spade test and subsequently alleviated. This is vital because compacted soils have a disrupted air and water balance, lacking the necessary pores for efficient water absorption and storage. These pores also provide essential habitats for soil organisms, which contribute to a stable soil structure characterized by crumbly aggregates formed through microbial activity. In a healthy, fertile soil, we find structural forms (granular structure) created by this microbial activity, as well as fine root hairs and fungal hyphae that reinforce the structure. Soil structure is a dynamic property that we must constantly monitor and work on.

We therefore break up compactions, alternating every one to two years, and change the “driving lane” (every second row). Vines generally possess a root system that is not very finely branched but is very extensive, which is why the nutrient-rich topsoil must be well-rooted and utilized. Deep compactions, deeper than 30 cm, are usually addressed during the initial vineyard setup with a subsoiler that penetrates downward without stirring the soil, allowing vines to develop deep roots easily, enhancing drought resilience. Our primary focus remains on the mid-soil layer (10-30 cm deep), which is essential for plant nutrition. This layer is periodically loosened at opportune times and reinforced with the fine roots of a cover crop. This way the roots of the vines can permeate the soil much more easily and work together with the microorganisms and fungi to unlock nutrients. During this loosening, the soil is not turned or mixed, which is important. We merely break it up and lift it so that it breaks into small parts and forms many fine cracks, which are quickly further broken up by the roots of the cover crop. The biologically most active area of the soil, the topmost soil layer (5-10 cm), is the only area that may be mixed during soil cultivation, namely when we work in the existing cover crop. This preserves the integrity of the soil horizons. If we were to go deeper, we would suffocate the microorganisms in deeper layers. Immediately after loosening, new plants are sown to “build up the soil alive”.

 

 

Cover Vegetation

Not long ago, many vineyards were just bare earth, where nothing green grew except the vines themselves. It’s hard to imagine today, but new insights have led to a change in thinking. The cover crops we plant now, with their beautiful blooms and forms, do more than just enhance biodiversity in the vineyard. They primarily serve as erosion control, improve soil structure and water retention, shade the ground, and create a barrier against the wind, which helps prevent drying out. Additionally, these plants help cushion the impact of tractor traffic, for example, when we drive through with sprayers. Plant roots and organic cycles also play a crucial role in developing the pore systems that are so essential to us.

The cover crops provide food for soil life (earthworms, microorganisms, etc.), creating the foundation for high biological activity and nutrient dynamics. By offering a variety of plant roots, we promote the diversity of soil life, which is a critical component of fertile soil. Fungi and fungal filaments make up over 50% of soil life, supplemented by bacteria, worms, and other animal organisms. In one cubic centimeter of fertile soil, there can be up to 100 million microorganisms, which amounts to about 10 tons per hectare. This figure astonished us when we first heard it, highlighting the significant impact that the diversity of plant communities has on soil life.

When composing the cover crop, we make sure that various legume species, various herbs, and also a small proportion of grasses are included. Especially legumes (clover, peas, etc.) ensure intensive rooting and stimulation of soil life. Simultaneously they fix nitrogen from the air and make it available to plants when needed. Nitrogen is crucial for vine growth (and the subsequent fermentation, as the yeast also feeds on it). That’s why we work with a high proportion of legumes. In our cover crop, there are both fast germinators, which cover the soil quickly, and slow germinators, which only develop later in the year, as well as medium-height and taller growing plants. Almost half of our cover crop consists of plants with very deep roots. They break up and aerate the deeper layers. During the vegetation period we strategically disturb the cover crop by mulching (mowing) it or rolling it down, depending on the weather. This way, we mobilize nutrients in the soil, regenerate it, and promote the growth and health of the vines and the entire ecosystem. With these measures, we succeed in maintaining and even increasing the humus content in the soil, which has a very positive effect on water retention capacity, as 1% more humus can store up to 430 m³ more water per hectare. This will be crucial in times of longer dry periods, as climate change brings. In addition, this also prevents soil loss in heavy rain events, as the topsoil is fixed and the loose structure can also absorb part of the water. We make our vineyards future-proof.

 

 

Biodiversity

Biodiverse systems not only have more effective nutrient cycles but also contribute significantly to pest management. A diverse and vibrantly flowering cover crop attracts beneficial insects that naturally keep pests under control. These insects, in turn, draw birds and other small animals, enhancing food availability and habitat quality. This healthy cycle of beneficial organisms is why we also strive to preserve or create natural habitats in the peripheries of our vineyards. We maintain various fruit trees, embankments, hedges, and wildflower meadows rather than clearing them away. Trees are strategically planted around the vineyard primarily for wind protection, which also helps reduce evaporation.

Step by step, we create habitats for all creatures that crawl, jump, fly, and creep, establishing an ecological balance. We have installed nesting boxes to encourage the return of nearly vanished beneficial bird species, such as “Bienenfresser” (hoopoes) and “Steinkauz” (a little owl being particularly dear to us as a winery with an owl emblem). Plans are underway for biodiversity islands within our larger vineyards, and we look forward to updating you once the first island is established.

Especially profound and positive impacts on biodiversity and ecological stability in the vineyard also result from forgoing herbicides and insecticides. We banned these toxins decades ago, allowing natural plant communities and insect populations to develop unhindered. Insecticides, intended to control pest populations, can unfortunately also harm beneficial insects like pollinators (e.g., bees, butterflies) and natural pest enemies (e.g., ladybugs, lacewings, spiders, predatory mites). Instead, we rely on natural populations of beneficial organisms and employ natural methods such as releasing pheromones—a practice widely adopted by the vintners in Kamptal. These pheromones, usually emitted by female moths to attract males for mating, help to manage the grape moth population effectively. By disrupting the mating process, we prevent the caterpillars from causing significant damage to the grapes.

Thus, by eschewing insecticides, a thriving population of beneficial organisms naturally keeps pest levels in check, making the ecosystem more resilient and reducing the necessity for chemical interventions. A true win-win situation.

 

 

Compost

A key aspect of regenerative agriculture involves the targeted application of high-quality compost (and compost teas, which introduce beneficial microorganisms into the soils). We compost organic waste from our wine production, including stems, skins, and lees (sediment). Bacteria and fungi break down this organic material, transforming it into humus-rich soil within weeks. The wood from pruning isn’t composted but is shredded within the rows and incorporated into the vineyard soil to enhance its structure.

We apply our compost alternately in different vineyards and thus rotate through all vineyard plots over several years. Some vineyards receive a bit more, others a bit less. We address each vineyard individually. The vines themselves guide us during the growing season (which will also determine how we prune them). This allows us to replenish the soil with most of the nutrients removed during grape harvesting while also stabilizing and enhancing soil structure for better water infiltration and root penetration. By increasing organic matter, we achieve balanced soil temperature, moisture, and aeration, which together with the nutrient-rich humus stimulates soil organism activity and thus the nutrient cycle. Of course, the most important aspect of compost management is to enrich the soil with nutrients and support vine health. Continuous use of compost and regenerative soil management enables the soil to provide all necessary minerals and nutrients for healthy vine development. By providing a rich environment for bacteria, mycorrhizal fungi, and worms, the compost contributes to the increase of biodiversity in the soil. Particularly mycorrhizal fungi are interesting players. They connect with the vine roots and thus extend their reach. This ingenious partnership allows for an intense exchange of nutrients and water between the fungi and the plants. The mycorrhiza acts as an extended arm of the roots, thereby improving nutrient uptake and even drought tolerance.

Another important point: The application of compost (the increase of organic material) reduces the mobility and bioavailability of copper in the soil, thereby also mitigating its negative effects on soil life. This practice is essentially indispensable for organic and biodynamic vineyards as plant protection involves the constant use of copper. As plant residues decompose, some of the copper integrates into the organic matter. Copper ions can also bind to organic components like humus, clay minerals, and organic colloids. Soil microorganisms can immobilize this toxic metal by incorporating it into their cellular structures or binding it to secretions (which are also responsible for the crumbly structure of healthy soil, indicating high biological activity).

 

 

Forming the Land

The role of landscape design is often overlooked, yet it is critical. Through thoughtful design of the landscape, natural processes can be supported and enhanced, leading to improved soil health, water retention, and biodiversity (or making agriculture possible in the first place). We have already discussed the strategic placement of windbreaks, hedges, and tree plantations to reduce soil erosion and create microclimates that counteract drying out. Building soil and managing water are central to our efforts. Given that water is a precious commodity, it makes sense to use and conserve it efficiently. Ancient techniques like terracing, contour ditches, and ponds allow us to distribute and store rainwater more effectively. Such designs make vineyards much more resilient to drought and heat. This may be less pertinent to other wine regions, but it’s crucial for us in Kamptal, which is a relatively dry area with an average annual rainfall of 450 liters per square meter. The medieval monks already recognized this. They essentially optimized our landscape with terraces centuries ago. Fortunately, they had a lot of time. We have known the benefits of terraces since antiquity. The monks used their deep understanding of topography and hydrology to further develop and refine the construction of terraces. The primary benefit of terraces is their ability to prevent soil erosion. This innovation allowed fertile soil to develop on otherwise barren slopes. Today, these terraced slopes are renowned for producing outstanding wines, such as those from Heiligenstein. Terraces also help prevent rainwater from rushing down the slopes, which would otherwise wash away valuable topsoil. Instead, the water seeps in slowly, remaining accessible longer for plants and soil organisms. This slow infiltration helps sustain the continuous development of fertile soil. An intelligent system that has lasted for generations.

The construction of ponds could also be implemented in Kamptal to collect runoff rainwater and let it seep slowly back into the vineyards through irrigation. This is a basic principle of the Keyline system, about which much will be read if one delves into regenerative agriculture. However, this would need to be a major collaborative project across the region to ensure it’s well-designed and effective. Currently, it remains a future vision. Eventually, it could offer significant benefits during dry years and when water levels are low, not only by protecting the vines from drought stress but also by cooling the landscape through the slow evaporation of stored rainwater.

 

 

Working by hand

In addition to all the soil-improving measures we implement, manual vine care is essential. It’s crucial not only for harvesting healthy grapes later but especially for minimizing the use of heavy machinery. In doing so, we strive to protect the soil, our most vital asset. Tasks like cutting, tying, breaking out, weaving in, defoliating, thinning out, selecting, and harvesting are all precise, carefully considered manual actions. These actions allow us to meet the individual needs of each vine. This would be simpler and cheaper with machines, but it would not be better for the vineyard ecosystem and also not for the quality of our grapes. This distinction highlights the difference between artisanal winemaking and industrial approaches—the meticulous attention to detail and the conscious extra effort as opposed to merely producing the cheapest bottle of wine possible. Of course, we should also acknowledge the advancements in technology, which promise to marry ecological sustainability with cost efficiency. Even though modern harvesting machines now deliver very good results, they are still extremely heavy and destroy the soil structure in EVERY row. We prefer the manual harvest, which allows us to select each grape directly on the vine and perform multiple passes, ensuring the best possible outcome in every aspect. Industrialization has long made its way into the wine world, but we still see wine as a handcrafted product with soul. The soil and nature are our greatest allies, as should have become clear from this article (and THIS one).

In many wine regions of the world, the care of vineyards and the production of wine is a tradition around which entire cultures have formed and thus preserve cultural and social values. The work of all farmers is incredibly valuable, we tend to forget that! Even though it is sometimes really strenuous, manual labor creates jobs and promotes the local economy. This is also an added value. Unfortunately, employees in our industry are now hard to find, even at very good pay. They often come from far away. Perhaps this is precisely why a technological revolution may one day be the consequence (or must be), let’s see.

 

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, we want to emphasize that regenerative agriculture does not yet provide answers to all our questions. Some of these answers do not yet exist or are incompletely resolved. However, this approach aligns more closely with our understanding of ecological (and economic) sustainability due to its flexibility and its departure from predefined paths than any other method we know. What’s particularly valuable is that this management philosophy empowers users to adequately respond to the specific conditions of a given year and region—dynamically and adaptively, free from rigid and preconceived rules, but with a deep understanding of natural processes. This represents a significant added value for us, one that we cannot find in any other management system and which, unfortunately, many well-intentioned certifications do not fully enable (which does not mean they are bad, but also not ideal). Ultimately, it is up to the user to decide what to do and to fully harness the potential of this approach.

 

So, that was plenty of information and many thoughts… let’s pour a good glass of wine now! Prost!