Sep 14, 2020

Looking to the future of winegrowing in the region of Lausanne

Up until the end of the 1990s, winegrowers were making widespread use of chemical products to combat vine diseases, pests, deficiencies and viruses. The establishment of integrated production and proof of ecological performance (PEP) for winegrowing, the creation of Vitiswiss (the Swiss federation for developing sustainable winegrowing) and the Vaud association Vitiplus, and the launch of the Vinatura label have all helped to boost vine and wine professionals’ considerations and awareness in this area.

With the support of the Changins federal agricultural research institute and working groups, in recent years winegrowers have changed their approach to chemical products and their understanding of their “work tools”, in other words their soils. Copper and sulphur remain the primary treatments for combating the vine diseases of downy and powdery mildew, but more than 90% of Vaud’s vineyards no longer use insecticides, which have been replaced in particular by hormone diffusers. However, synthetic insecticides had to be reintroduced in certain very targeted areas in 2014 when “flavescence dorée” arrived from neighbouring countries.

Overall, the number and dosage size of treatments have considerably fallen, significantly reducing their side effects on the environment, flora, fauna and humans. Application processes have also been improved, for example by using more effective sprayers that limit product drift or by preventing machine rinsing water from being mixed with recovered clean water. The use of herbicides has also been reduced, replaced by techniques that are more respectful of biodiversity such as mowing between alternate rows, taking the needs of both birds and insects into account. This has enhanced water protection, although distance from watercourses is still something that could be improved.

Winegrowing has also gained a sustainable development charter that takes the environmental, economic and social aspects of wine estates into account. This covers vine plots and cultivation, winery work, and company management, and specifically targets enhancing the value of products, managing natural resources, balanced management of inputs and waste, sustainable energy management, landscape conservation and biodiversity. Winegrowing that is certified as using organic methods makes up 350 hectares or 11% of Lausanne Region’s vineyards. As of 2020, a third of the winegrowing area is registered as a location promoting diversity.