In January 2020, the winery launched the Viñasostenible project with the Public University of Navarra (UPNA) and its Advanced Fruit and Viticulture team. The first stage of this project affects an area of 40 hectares of the winery’s territory. In addition, Viñasostenible is a pilot project included in the Rural Development Program of Navarra (PDR) co-financed by the Government of Navarra and European Funds FEADER.
The Viñasostenible project has a primary objective: to integrate agricultural solutions that will significantly increase the sustainability of vine cultivation in Navarra, allowing the winery to move towards a model that is more respectful of the ecosystem. To achieve this goal, this project acts on three pillars. Firstly, Bodega Otazu seeks to increase biodiversity on the farm and in its environment. This is achieved through:
- The installation of nest boxes, since our auxiliary fauna, birds of prey (kestrels and owls), insectivorous birds (blue tit, coal tit) and bats play a role in the ecosystem helping to keep pests under control.
- Insect hotels
- Bee boxes
- Planting of native shrubs and trees of more than 15 species that provide shelter and food for the surrounding fauna.
- The vegetation cover allows a natural reduction of up to 45% of grape production, this being the first step in the process of selecting the best raw material. Likewise, for more than 20 years, at Otazu we have combined different plant covers, alternating plants such as fescue, whose short roots act as a humidity regulator, with others with long roots: oats, barley or mustard. The deep action of these roots favors oxygenation and drainage of the soil, generating an ideal habitat for insects and annelids, which will later serve as natural food for larger species, mainly birds. In this project we deepen the knowledge acquired by planting floral covers to attract pollinating insects, which, in addition to contributing to the reproduction of plants, serve as food for the auxiliary fauna that inhabits the fields of our winery.
Microbiological analyses of the soil are also carried out. For this purpose, the winery has had the collaboration of the Ilindain Haritz Berri Foundation, who have carried out the study of the habitat of the area and have carried out the installation of these infrastructures in December 2020.
Secondly, the project aims to reduce the impact of phytosanitary treatments on the vineyard and its environment by improving application systems and implementing support tools. To achieve this, Bodega Otazu and the UPNA have implemented several tools: a meteorological application, a weather station and the placement of probes to improve decision-making when carrying out treatments.
In addition, an innovation of the machinery has been completed with recovery screens that reduce the impact of the treatments on the environment and the elimination of the use of herbicides, replacing them with specific machinery for this task. Despite not having pest problems and not having the need to use insecticides in the vineyard, moth detectors were included in the project because we have the hypothesis that with climate change the tendency is that pests will cause problems in colder areas such as ours. This was put in place to anticipate a future problem and thus be able to monitor the evolution of these pests.
Finally, the third objective of Bodega Otazu’s Viñasostenible project aims to motivate other vineyards in Navarra to implement this type of methodologies. Thus, this region of Spain will become an example of innovation and sustainability in vine cultivation and winemaking processes.