Located in Baixo Alentejo, in hard edaphic and climatic conditions, Herdade dos Grous uses agricultural management practices that aim to integrate agriculture into the environment with an enormous respect for land and Nature. It has been developing a philosophy of sustainable production in all its aspects, with a special focus on the vineyard and winery.
At Herdade dos Grous there’s an agricultural mosaic landscape, which maintain and promote biodiversity and it’s also important for other practices such as the management of vineyard and olive grove, the maintenance and reforestation of the Montado, the sowing of permanent biodiverse pastures and the promotion of habitat banks for pollinators and auxiliaries in fallow areas.
Sustainability and Nature are the pillars of our project.
STARTING TO ENDING DATE:
2015 – ongoing
Herdade dos Grous mission is to produce sustainably, protecting the environment, promoting the well-being of its employees and benefiting the local community in which it operates. The way we choose to make agriculture is the network that supports our journey towards higher climate resilience, sustaining not only today’s business, but it will also guarantee the practice of an intelligent and responsible agriculture. This is the legacy that we would like to leave for the next generations.
Partnerships with regional and national Universities and Associations collaborating with them on Investigation and Development.
Herdade dos Grous Estate has 1.000 hectares, being 93 ha for the vineyards, 140 ha for olive grove, a dam with total area of 85 ha, 15 ha of pine trees, 7 ha of fruit trees and vegetable garden, 240 ha of pastures including 120 ha of Montado (mediterranean oak forest), 120 ha of natural pastures, 275 ha of forage for the cattle, being the rest of the area for protect wildlife and promoting functional biodiversity. This crop mosaic is fundamental to have good practices in sustainable agriculture.
REASONS WHY/ MOTIVATION
Our Sustainable strategy is based on 6 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which stand for our value chain. Through these SDGs, we defined new indicators to be integrated in the Integrated Management System and in the Company’s strategic decisions.
In 2015 we joined the Wines of Alentejo Sustainability Program (WASP), a pioneering project in Portugal, and with increasing international recognition, created by the Alentejo Wine and Vine Growing Commission. Thus, in the last few years we have focused on monitoring all WASP requirements, in a range that goes from the vineyard to the winery, and taking into account all social aspects, transversal to wine production.
The existence of organic practices applied to all farming, as well as certification according to ISO 14001:2015, in wine production and management of vineyard, olive grove and livestock, reinforce our commitment to the environment and sustainability.
We have also been developing action plans towards integrated sustainable farming, looking beyond the vineyards, and considering the whole landscape mosaic.
DESCRIPTION AND STRATEGIES
Being also aware of climate changes, Herdade dos Grous has been adopting several measures such as:
- The choice of planting orientation on vineyard that avoid water stress and sunburn, and also the use of autochthonous and more resilient grape varieties.
- Agricultural practices that mainly avoid soil mobilization and promote seeding inter-row cover crops which will naturally enrich the soils with its natural composition, associated with a reduction of pesticides application and elimination of herbicides use.
- We also introduce natural organic matter, coming from the estate farming activities, in a circular economy philosophy
In 2019, we started a Management Plan of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, which identify, characterize and improve the areas and elements of high ecological value.
Herdade dos Grous has been developing, step by step, a biodiversity and ecosystems strategy, mainly focused on land mosaic promotion and defining and restoring the fundamental ecological network.
- We have installed a few bird of prey and bat boxes for maintaining ‘aerial support’ regarding pest control, from moths to rodents, and we are currently defining new sites for new boxes to increase the populations of bats and owls.
- Promotion of habitat banks for pollinators and wild animal species that benefit the vineyards and other farming plots.
- Creation of areas to protect wildlife and promote functional biodiversity by creating wild plants hedgerows, Mediterranean temporary ponds.
- Use of seed mixes to promote soil protection and weed control.
- Protection and management of riparian areas.
- Maintenance and reforestation of the Montado and sowing of permanent biodiverse pastures for the carbon sequestration increase.
In 2020, we joined the act4nature, an initiative of BCSD Portugal, with the aim of helping to reverse the loss of biodiversity globally.
At the winery, good practices are also implemented, taking into account fundamental aspects such as the efficient use of electricity and water, as well as the use of more sustainable materials in the products packaging.
- We have replaced all the lamps, and currently we just have led lamps. We also have installed 3 solar panel parks which supply all the buildings at the estate.
- For water saving in the winery we are using water pressure pistols in all the hoses, we are reusing water from vats washing and all our workers are quite aware of the low water resources and the need of saving it.
- Our cartons, wooden boxes, barrels and corks are made out of materials coming from certified Forests with Sustainable Management. In 2020, we also decided to change the glass weight of our bottles.
- We also promote Circular Economy through the waste valorisation produced at the winery activities/ processes.
Since 2016, in a partnership with the University of Lisbon, we’ve been calculated our carbon footprint, being our average 1,46 kg of CO2 (eq) emissions/per bottle. These figures encouraged us to continue our work and it is also a good value for the worldwide benchmark range.
In addition to the environmental aspects, social responsibility and the involvement and cooperation with our employees and the local community are fundamental areas of action for the project to be truly integrated. Playful, educational and supportive activities are developed regularly for local schools and associations, actively involving all our workers in these actions.
ACHIEVEMENTS SO FAR
Last year we achieved improvements in several fields, namely:
- Reduction of water and electricity consumption in the winery and vineyard.
- Increase the amount of reused and recycled waste.
- Reducing our carbon footprint.
- Largest intervention area to increase carbon sequestration and biodiversity management.
In 2020, Herdade dos Grous was the first Alentejo wine producer to achieve the goals proposed by WASP for obtaining Sustainably Produced certification. This certification is the recognition of the work developed along this last few years and will help us to communicate with our stakeholders all the sustainable practices and actions that we implemented, our goals and results.
The planet cannot wait, we must act urgently.
So, we believe that the work that we are developing will have, later on, many advantages essentially on the soil quality, on the water savings, on the biodiversity increasing and on the well-being of our employees.
Although in this initial moment, we are feeling an increase of costs due to this agriculture management, we do believe that we’ll have a good turnover in the near future.
To ensure the continuous improvement of the requirements and goals of WASP.
To promote Biodiversity through the Management Plan of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and by ensuring compliance and achieve act4nature Portugal’s individual and collective commitments.
To release our 1st Sustainability Report.
To plant 40 hectares of vineyard at Herdade dos Grous using autochthonous varieties rich in genetic biodiversity and resilient to climate change.
To search for new technologies, for better energy efficiency, for reusing water in industrial processes and for the improvement of the agriculture management.
To identify and apply or integrate a scientific consortia for the development of R&D projects.
POTENTIAL FOR REPLICATION
Our Sustainability Strategy Plan is already integrated into the company’s strategic management.
This Plan also has the potential to be replicated in other properties of the Group, namely in the Douro region and to be a reference for the Alentejo region.