European winemakers grapple with environmental questions

Vineyards in the mountains of the Beaujolais region.

Proud of their wines, Europeans are also concerned about the industry’s widespread use of pesticides, while winemakers themselves will have to adapt to rising temperatures. From Bordeaux to Riesling and Champagne, EURACTIV takes a look at changing wine-making practices.

Viticulture drives pesticide consumption upwards. Wine-growing countries such as France, Spain and Italy are major consumers, mainly because the grapes need to be sprayed with plenty of pesticides.

The sector cannot operate without spraying these plant protection products and winegrowers have not changed their practices even though EU member states called for the reduction in the use of pesticides ten years ago.

But pressure from citizens is starting to shake things up. Although it remains modest in terms of sales of hectares, organic farming is progressing, as are sustainable agriculture approaches.

Practices often change during the relocation of vineyards, which is accompanied by a more global reflection on the adaptation of wines to climate change and drier climates, particularly in the Riesling and Bordeaux regions.

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