Identifying key factors influencing sustainable wine production - A case study on the wine sector in the Porto and Douro region, Portugal
Laan, R.J. van der
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The agricultural sector is an important contributor to the unsustainable use of natural resources today and poses large sustainability challenges in the future. This is due to a growing world population that consumes an ever increasing resource intensive diet. The wine sector, while commonly viewed as a natural and low-impact sector, has significant environmental impacts, such as water use, loss of biodiversity and greenhouse gas emissions. Hence, it becomes increasingly important to incorporate sustainable wine production in the worlds wine regions. New World wine regions (e.g. California, New Zealand) have shown to rapidly develop their sustainable wine production, unlike Old World wine regions (e.g. European regions like France, Spain, Portugal). The purpose of this study is to find factors that influence sustainable wine production. Therefore, both the Regional Innovation System (RIS) and the Sectoral System of Innovation (SSI) are integrated into a Regional and Sectoral Innovation System (RSIS). From this approach, influencing factors are explored and determined whether they are supporting or hindering sustainable wine production. The Sustainability Assessment of Farming and the Environment (SAFE) framework is used to identify sustainability challenges in the case-study region and to identify the sustainability element of factors influencing sustainable wine production. As a case-study region, the Old World Porto and Douro wine region in Portugal is chosen. Next to the Old World case-study region, a general comparison with the New World wine region California is executed, to find discrepancies between the two. The main sustainability challenges identified in the Porto and Douro wine region are; excessive pesticide use, genetic erosion, water scarcity, the low price of wine, and decreasing population in the viticultural area. The main hindering factors to sustainable wine production identified are related to the legislative framework, the financial risks involved, and the resistance to change mind-set of people working in the wine sector. The main supporting factors to sustainable wine production identified are related to a growing market for sustainable wines, increase in wine tourism and entrepreneurship. Due to the comparison with the New World wine region, the inadequate representation of the farmers has been identified as a hindering factor to sustainable wine production in the Porto and Douro wine region. It is recommended that the Porto and Douro wine region governing organizations explore the possibility to introduce mechanisms that support, reward, and educate on, sustainable wine practices, considering the supporting and hindering RSIS factors that are identified.