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Familia Torres leads by example at 2nd Symposium on Regenerative Viticulture

Published:  11 May, 2022

Following a successful debut last year, the 2nd Symposium on Regenerative Viticulture brought together wine producers from across the globe (via video link) to discuss the benefits of the regenerative model and why more vineyards should use it.

Organised by Familia Torres, one of the world’s most innovative wineries, the conference took place in Vilafranca del Penedès, Catalonia. The region has benefited significantly from the winery's commitment to climate change, including its unique balloon capture system, which traps and re-uses 20 tons of Carbon Dioxide a year during the fermentation process.

The winery itself, built into the mountains in Pacs del Penedès, looks like a secret headquarters in the mould of Tracy Island, with its prominent stone structure, large windows and descending water heavily camouflaged by the surrounding nature.

Like the Thunderbirds, the Torres family have international rescue in mind and are not resting on their laurels, despite spending €16 million on environmental practices over the last decade. 

This was none more evident than at the 2nd Symposium, which saw several vineyard owners share their success stories using regenerative viticulture, including Miguel Torres Maczassek, part of the Torres family’s fifth-generation and MD of the business.

Closing the symposium, Miguel Torres said: “The resilience of regenerative viticulture brings greater consistency to the wine. As a result, the wine better reflects the fertility of the soil and, in drought years, we can obtain more elegant wines.”

He added: “By committing to regenerative viticulture, we can continue cutting emissions and achieve carbon neutrality before 2050.”

Regenerative viticulture is the only vineyard model based on the carbon cycle, which maximises the vine’s ability to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and store it in the ground, benefiting the soil and promoting biodiversity.

Johan Reyneke, owner-winemaker of Reyneke wines, said: “Agriculture can make a significant and positive difference to climate change if we use regenerative viticulture.”

He added: “We have a 10-year plan to improve our wine quality and farming activities. Our team looks at diverse variables that interact on a farm, including  carbon footprint, soil microbes and humus levels, insects and birds, the supply chain, distribution networks, employee health and more.”

This is all well and good, but why don’t all vineyards use regenerative viticulture?

Simply put, going green isn’t always that sustainable financially, especially for small to medium-sized businesses. Modern farming is more affordable because the use of agrochemicals reduces labour costs, plus growers need a good yield of healthy grapes to survive, which is by no means guaranteed with a solely regenerative approach. 

This is where the International Wineries for Climate Action (IWCA) comes in. Founded by Familia Torres and Jackson Family Wines in 2019, the non-profit organisation is working to develop greenhouse gas (GHG) emission calculators, to help the viticulture community become more sustainable. 

33 wineries, big and small, from 9 countries make up the IWCA at present, all of which are committed to carbon neutrality by 2050.

The GHG tracker, which will be region-specific, will help IWCA wineries account for annual emissions from vineyard to consumer, resulting in a certification that may soon be visible on bottle labels around the globe.