Chile will create an association of organic winegrowers

A group of Chilean vineyards forms an association to promote organic wine as demand for organic products shows significant post-pandemic upsurge.

Chile moves towards more organic cultivation of the vineyard

News of the impending organization came during an interview with Jaime Valderrama, Managing Director of Viña Miguel Torres Chile.

Addressed exclusively to beverage trade Last week, he said a group of six wineries are coming together to promote Chile’s organic wine and that the new association will also benefit from the support of Wines of Chile, which brings together much of the country’s wine industry. primarily for marketing purposes.

Among the founding members of the organic association will include Viña Emiliana, Odfell and Koyle, according to Valderrama, as well as Viña Miguel Torres Chile.

Taking cues from Organic Winegrowers New Zealand (OWNZ), which is dedicated to supporting organic viticulture, he said the Chilean vineyard group was talking to the founders of the New Zealand organization for advice on how to manage such a group.

Valderrama also said db that since the relaxation of trade restrictions linked to Covid around the world, activity has been booming, especially for organic wines.

“Last year was very bad for us because we had a strong position in restaurants,” he said, recalling the challenge of selling wine when on-site operators were shut down in much of the world. with the aim of stemming the rate of Covid transmissions.

Continuing, he said: “So this year is very good, especially for organic wines, and our line of organic Las Mulas wines is doing very well; natural and organic wine is facing increased demand, and this is also where the growth is in the US, Europe, UK and Korea.

He added: “It seems that the consumer is more concerned with organic and the environment, and that is why we are creating an association of organic producers in Chile: the future for us is organic and natural wines.

Currently, 98% of the grape production on the 314 hectares owned by Torres in Chile is grown organically, with certification.

The 2% of the group’s vineyard area that is not certified comes from the far south of Chile in the Osorno region, where Valderrama said it was more difficult to be fully organic due to the high pressure. botrytis due to heavy rainfall in this region. part of the country, with 1500 mm falling each year.

With Torres Chile vineyards supplying only 40% of its needs, winemaker from producer Eduardo Jordan said he was meeting with grape suppliers to encourage them to convert to organic practices by offering long-term contracts with guaranteed higher prices for bunches produced according to the agricultural philosophy.

The proposed increase, he said, was more than double what growers are currently receiving, so that would more than offset the higher costs of organic viticulture, which Jordan said was 20-25% more. Dear.

However, the most powerful incentive to change was the promise of a market for their grapes.

Speaking about contracts, he said: “What is most important for producers is stability. “

Finally, noting the impact of climate change in Chile to date, Jordan referred to a frightening drop in annual rainfall levels around the center and north of the country.

Taking the Torres base in Curicó as an example, he said the average rainfall in this “south-central” area of ​​Chile has fallen by 76%.

Considering the totals since 1961, he recorded that the average rainfall since that year had been 750mm, but from 2019 to 2020, Curico had only received 137mm, with an average of 400mm in recent years.

Along with a marked reduction in precipitation, he said the region is experiencing more temperature extremes, with an increase in the number and severity of heat waves and freezing episodes.

It’s a general warming of conditions in Chile that he says has allowed Torres Chile to work with vineyards in the far south of the country.

“Climate change has brought new opportunities, like Osorno,” he said.

“Before 2010, this area was considered useful only for forests and cows, but now you can plant vines,” he added.

Overall, he said the search for cooler conditions and areas with enough rainfall to grow grapes without irrigation was driving Torres Chile to invest in land in southern Chile, including Itata and Bío Bío.

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