La Rioja Alta, S.A. faces a new milestone in its decided environmental commitment and does so by allocating 16 hectares of its vineyards to 100% organic viticulture. In an initial phase, the winery group has chosen two strategic plots: a 6 hectare plot in ‘La Pedriza’ in Tudelilla, Rioja Baja, planted with Garnacha and a 10 ha plot in a Tinta del País vineyard belonging to the Áster winery in Ribera del Duero in Anguix, Burgos.
According to Roberto Frías, Director of Viticulture at La Rioja Alta, S.A., in these specially selected vineyards “We will not use any synthesis plant health products, herbicides, acaricides, fungicides or insecticides.” “We will use exclusively copper and sulphur to control downy mildew and powdery mildew, respectively and extracts of fungi, algae and vegetables for other types of diseases and, if we need to apply any fertilizer, it will be organic,” assured Frías. The purpose of this initiative is “to learn and study how our vineyards, grapes and wines are affected by refraining from the use of conventional plant health products” The head of the agricultural section is “optimistic about prospective results” and he is convinced that “the total elimination of chemicals will be beneficial for everyone and, in addition, will have a positive effect on the quality of our wines.”
This decision represents yet another step in the sustainable management developed for decades by the winery group headed by Guillermo de Aranzabal. This has been brought about by the use of integrated viticulture in the Group’s close to 650 ha of estate-owned vineyards in Rioja, Rioja Alavesa, Rías Baixas and Ribera del Duero. This new initiative joins other well-established practices, including “the use of biotechnological alternatives for pest control, leaving a ground cover on more than 30% of the total surface of vineyards, and several R&D projects that, for example, have allowed us to employ fertigation in the vineyards of our Galician winery.”
In the words of Aranzabal “In our work as a winery, nature is essential and environmental protection a priority, and that is why we have adopted measures such as, limiting the maximum treatments in the vineyards, reusing water in the wineries, using corks and boxes made with sustainably-managed materials and investing in clean energies such as biomass, wind and, soon, solar energy.”
In this sense, the President of La Rioja Alta, S.A. has announced the installation in the coming months of a solar farm to provide a major part of the energy used by the firm’s winery in Labastida, Alava.