"We are almost a decade ahead of what many other regions, nationally and internationally, are doing in the area of sustainability", argued today João Barroso, the coordinator of the Alentejo Wine Sustainability Program (PSVA).
The person in charge, that spoke to journalists at the presentation of the new version of the program, PSVA 2.0, recalled that "there are sustainability initiatives from other (wine) producers in other regions of the country’, but ‘as a critical mass, no has what the Alentejo has".
"Alentejo continues to be the only region that has a sustainability program (in the wine sector) in the country’ and "you can say with the utmost certainty, to any wine region in the world that, in the area of sustainability, it is one of the best", he stressed.
The proof of this "is that producers from other regions of the world, visit the Alentejo to see how it’s done there", he indicated, exemplifying that producers have already traveled to the region "from Chile, California, The United Kingdom, and Spain".
The PSVA was created by the Wine Commission in 2015. Within its scope a sustainable production certification was launched in 2020, teaching producers in the region, from the vineyards to the winery, the right economic, social and environmental practices.
In the presentation, at Herdade das Servas, in the municipality of Estremoz (Évora), João Barroso revealed that the 20th and most recent wine producer should be able to bear the ‘seal’ of sustainable production due to its ‘clearly positive’ stability of almost 10 years.
"In Portugal, particularly in the Alentejo region there is a before and after the PSVA in wine making", he stated.
The PSVA currently has around 650 members, a number that is "growing every day and represents 60% of the Alentejo vineyard area", which does not mean that the entire area is of sustainable production, he said.
"We have 20 certified producers, that have third-party certifications accredited by the Portuguese Quality Institute, which is a quarter of the vineyard area, therefore, approximately 25% is already sustainable production, representing 33% of the volume of wine", meaning that 'a third of the Alentejo wine on the market is already sustainably produced’ he explained.
Since the beginning, the PSVA has promoted the sustainable production of winemaking, combining the economic viability of producers with the preservation of the environment, especially with climate change in mind.
The implemented practices have included, among others, the use of sheep, geese and chickens in the vineyard to combat pests, reducing the use of herbicides and pesticides; the installation of flow meters to measure and control water consumption; the use of lawns to improve soil structure; water retention capacity; increasing organic matter or capturing carbon dioxide; reusing water; recycling materials and training employees.
According to the CVRA, the PSVA 2.0 is the result of ‘an unprecedented partnership’ with the non-governmental organisation (NGO) ANO|WWF and the University of Évora to ‘improve the criteria’ of evaluation, continuing in total 171, some being removed from an old version and 29 were created in the new version.
The aim is to "increase work demands even further", said João Barroso, highlighting the PSVA 2.0 as ‘more inclusive’, with measures to reduce the carbon footprint or promote the circular economy, gender equality, social inclusion and the reinforcement of regenerative agriculture.