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Responding to Climate Change 2011

Home | Biodiversity & Land Use | Torres Nurturing the grapes of change
 

Nurturing the grapes of change

Torres

Rioja winery
Rioja winery

The new climate reality directly affects vineyards as vines are highly sensitive to environmental change and any variation in the climate can impact their growing cycle. In the same vein, the very methods and products used to cultivate the crops can be destructive, but there are biological alternatives and processes that do not harm the environment.

Industry recognition
The “Green Company of the Year”
2009 Green List


Source: Drinks Business -
www.thedrinksbusiness.com

Spanish winery, Torres, explains how their viticultural methods respect the environment, and how they are going to reduce CO2 emissions by 30% by 2020 compared with the levels in 2008. The company’s maxim has always been, “The better we look after the land, the better the wine we produce”.

Established at the turn of the twentieth century, that’s how they have worked down the years, generation after generation, and now, more than ever, they are aware of its singular importance. For several years now, they have acted to ease the effects of, and adapt to, climate change.

Easing effects

Tremp vineyard, part of the Torres estate
Tremp vineyard, part
of the Torres estate

Promoting renewable energy sources within their operations is key. A fixed photovoltaic panel installation, of approximately 12,000m2, at the Pacs winery covers around 10% of the winery’s energy requirements. Solar panels produce hot water for 50% of the energy need for the bottle cleaning lines. This initiative received the Energy Savings award from the Catalan government in 2002. They also are aiming to use a wind park for 60% of the winery’s energy consumption (2.8MW).

Use of water is also optimised via a biological waste water treatment plant with a capacity for 1,200 cubic litres per day, and there is reverse osmosis at the entrance to the cooling tower’s evaporative condensers. Intelligent irrigation systems are adapted to the needs of each vineyard and the winery itself collects rainwater for its own use. The estates are also landscaped with plants with low-water needs.

The company is gradually renewing its entire car fleet, acquiring low-consumption cars (as of May 2010, they have 48 hybrid vehicles). Further C02 reductions have been achieved by insulating stainless steel tanks, building underground stores and redesigning circuits. The packaging used is ecological and the weight of glass bottles reduced by nearly 17%, but the search for new materials and more eco-efficient packaging is ongoing.

Experiments at the Bleda nursery are looking at capturing CO2 from algae beds, and more broadly, Torres is studying measures to optimise energy through a Tri-Generation project based on taking advantage of the biomass. Every year, the pomace and stalks from the grapes generate six million kilos of waste that, via gasification, can be used as energy.

Measures to adapt

Some years ago, Torres became aware the grapes were changing in how they ripened. The sugar content and in terms of aromas were becoming less synchronised. They are researching different techniques to avoid this, including:

  • different plant density;
  • canopy management (prunings, cuttings and defoliations);
  • different vine training systems; and,
  • trials with rootstock with differing degrees of resistance to drought, vegetation development and ripening rates.

They are looking for new locations to adapt vines to the new climate conditions at higher altitudes. This could necessitate the recovery of old Catalan varieties, better adapted to the region. They are also participating in the Spanish research project, CENIT-DEMETER, which is laying foundations for a new positioning for the wine production sector with regard to climate change.

Torres estate offices

Beyond the day to day graft in the vineyards, Torres protects the forests of the Penedès region, as well their 1,550 hectares of woodland across Spain, 300 hectares of forest in Chile and 2,000 hectares of vineyards. They are taking part in protecting the Bonelli’s Eagle alongside the Animal Biology department of Barcelona University. In Chile, they work with the Union of Ornithologists of Chile in safeguarding the Andean Condor, and also in the Seychelles, supporting the Island Conservation Society in the preservation of local birds.

Torres logo

Torres
www.torresearth.com

 
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