02/21/2012

Gróf Degenfeld Weingut

Organic Grape Cultivation in the Gróf Degenfeld Vineyards

The transition towards the cultivation of organic grapes begun in our vineyards in 2009. A plan was prepared for the designated land, the target of which was the transformation to organic cultivation methods over all productive territory within four years. This year an area of 35 hectares has been reached. Our first organic wine is due to be prepared from the coming 2012 vintage.

During the aforementioned period we have come to realise that organic cultivation is not merely a question of pest control. Rather it is a comprehensive philosophy. In this light, when the topic is to be discussed, multifaceted thinking is necessary. In practice, it demands an interpretation of an entire range of cultivation and treatment techniques.


The Soil


The grapes of the Tokaj-hegyalja region have been grown as a monoculture on the same land for many decades or even centuries. Traditionally, in the interests of herbicide application, the vine plant was kept only and every other plant was systematically killed off throughout the cultivated area. However, by using weedicides the soil structure was damaged and after a certain time completely spoiled. Due to the latter phenomenon the number of bacteria, roundworms, earthworms, insects, fungi, etc. inhabiting the soil drastically decreased, their positive and stimulating impact ceased. The soil was significantly depleted; it could even be described as having “died”. The balance of ingestion of plants and of grapevines was dissolved and attempts were made to replace a total or partial absence of nutrients with chemical fertilizers. The use of such growth agents in inappropriate proportions resulted in other deficiency diseases.


Due to the above factors, the first and foremost task of the aforementioned transition was the regeneration of the soil. Treatment with chemical fertilizers and weedkillers has been entirely abandoned. Soil life has been revitalized with the planting of cover crops, and the introduction of organic fertilizers and compost. Naturally this is a process still lasting last several years.



Pest Control

As far as we are concerned, perhaps the most fundamental aspect of organic cultivation is the abandonment of insecticides, which enables that beneficial insects repopulate the vineyards.

Of similar importance is the discontinuation of the employment of pesticide which penetrate the plant as the usage substantially diminishes her natural resistance capabilities.

At present the foundation of the plant protection in our organic vineyards is provided by substances containing copper and sulphur. This is complemented by the application of plant growth promoters and conditioners.



Because only surface-adherent (“contact”) materials meet the requirements of organic cultivation, which, however,
will be washed out quickly after a rainfall, we had to spray much more targeted and generally more frequently at
neuralgic spots. The effort of using organic cultivation increased noticeably.

Techniques

The applied technology plays an important role in the green work for both the health protection of plant and fruit and the protection of first-class grapes. The aim to be achieved is that the wall of foliage should be narrow and allow ventilation all year round. Great attention must also be paid to the permanent provision of a suitable assimilation surface for the plants. In addition the grape clusters should be protected via sufficient bulky foliage from strong ultraviolet rays, primarily from southerly and westerly directions. For this work we invested in specialised defoliation units after extensive testing. Our up-to-date spraying machines minimise the spreading liquid quantity. Other cultivation units ensure a homogeneous output of our self produced humus in the vine rows.


For us organic grape cultivation is an essential step towards a sustainable viniculture. We endeavour to focus on the whole process chain of the wine industry and adjust every singular step newly in terms of quality and sustainability. In the following years we will engage amongst others with the reduction of energy consumption outside and in the cellar industry.

We are convinced that the measures already realised show a clearly improvement in quality of our products. Anyhow we do not appear as an organic winery because we would like to satisfy our clients with our products and not with beautiful glossy brochures.