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Over the past few years, special attention has been paid to organic farming, and especially the production of organic (eco/ bio) products. This category includes eco-wine or organic wine as well. The production of this type of wine is not a new phenomenon, however modern agriculture, which allows the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, simply overshadowed this process in the middle of the 20th century. Despite this, over the past decades, a number of winemakers are trying to bring back the traditional production methods, either for environmental reasons or as part of new marketing strategies.

France is considered the birthplace of ecological viticulture and eco-wine. In 2016, this sector consisted of 5263 wineries with 58,638 hectares of ecological vineyards, which represents almost 9% of the country's vineyards. At the end of 2016, there were 2,000 eco-wine producers in the world, almost half of them were from France.

If we take the EU as a whole, in 2015, there were more than 280,000 hectares of ecological vineyards on its territory (9% of total). Spain, Italy and France share 90% of European ecological vineyards.

The main technical aspects related to ecological viticulture:
• soil and fertility management. In some cases, it is necessary to undertake several gardening activities (destruction of weeds, ensuring of favorable soil microbial activity, combating of erosion);
• finding a balance of vine productivity (use of organic fertilizers);
• implementation of preventive measures;
• phytosanitary protection using products approved in accordance with the Specification of Ecological Agriculture (copper and sulfur are allowed);
• complete replacement of herbicides and synthetic products (fungicides, insecticides and fertilizers) with natural and mineral products;
• in viticulture, copper is one of the few fungicides permitted in the organic sector, but its use varies at the national and European level, and in the future it may be completely excluded from use.

Nowadays, there are many national and international organizations and institutions that are involved in the certification, standardization and monitoring of organic viticulture and organic wine, however the standards for eco-wine may differ depending on the legislation of each country and especially on certification bodies. Essentially an eco wine is made from grapes grown in accordance with principles of organic farming, that excludes the use of artificial chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides.

Eco-wine features:
• The grapes that are used in its production are usually grown in small quantities by small companies;
• grapes are harvested by hand and the soil is processed only using organic fertilizers of natural origin. In combating diseases and pests there are used strictly biological products;
• During fermentation process, no yeast is added;
• During fermentation process, the use of artificial additives and nutrients is excluded, although EU legislation allows the addition of natural additives, such as egg white, yeast or animal enzymes;
• sulfites are not used or they are added in minimal quantities. The EU allows adding a small amount of sulfites to an eco wine in order to increase its shelf life. In wines produced for example in the USA, the use of sulfites is excluded.

In addition to using natural fertilizers throughout the year, in the fall, when grapes are harvested, it is also important to observe several rules. The EU prohibits the use of any metal in contact with organic grapes. They must be collected in baskets, and then crushed in an archaic way. Organic technology is, in fact, hundreds of years old technology of growing and harvesting grapes.

Organic viticulture and eco-wines in Moldova

From the information that we have at the moment, there are only two domestic producers that make ecological wine: Equinox and Pelican Negru. Their wines can be found in online stores, in Chisinau wine shops and in some restaurants. A bottle of Equinox costs between 175 and 350 lei, while a bottle of Pelican Negru is priced at 135 lei. The vineyards of both producers are located near the village Olanesti, in Stefan Voda district. In general, in our country, 1.3% of the area (700 hectares of land) is intended for organic viticulture.

Growing ecological grapes and producing eco-wine is associated with large investments and even greater risks. The costs are significant, because without the use of chemicals, the vineyards are exposed to pests and diseases, which can lead to large production losses. Paradoxically, the life expectancy of an organic vine is three times less than in case of vines treated with chemical substances.

However, from an economic point of view, ecological viticulture offers products with high biological and high added value, which will lead to increased efficiency of the wine industry and new opportunities for capitalization in both domestic and foreign markets.

photosource: time.com