Collaborative problem solving of issues affecting the viticultural sector
Issues affecting the viticultural sector (including administration and inter‑professionalism)
Awaiting contribution from Dr. Edite Azenha.
Individual activities versus community action
Once a more focussed perspective had been achieved, the key data upon which to base a strategy for a common market‑‐ driven wine policy had to be determined. During this period innovative activities were initiated at both sectoral and regional levels. The objectives of these innovative activities shifted, however, and mostly ended up with a new political party coming into power, often resulting in their discontinuation. This occurred precisely at a time when the “new world of wine” with its excellently‑‐coordinated economic policies was flooding the prime international markets with its products.
When ViniPortugal, an inter‑‐professional wine promotion and marketing company, was established in 1993, the wine industry was at the height of its crisis, made worse by there being a surplus of grapes with no prospects of selling them internationally as quality wine. After massive investment from EU funding in new, market‑‐oriented production structures, the situation slowly improved the decade which followed. In 2003 ViniPortugal realised that the next step towards competitiveness now had to be taken, so its members funded a new programme with the Monitor Group to revive the Porter Wine Cluster. After a series of conferences, the Monitor Group reviewed the figures of the larger wine producers. The goal was to agree priorities for a national wine programme. The main issues were tackled in sectoral workgroups, and their results presented to the public.
The proposals covered almost every aspect of the Wine Cluster, but were clearly orientated towards economic success with topics such as, “How to drive competitiveness into the Portuguese wine‑‐cluster“. This strategic plan was based on the 2003 Australian strategy paper for the wine sector backed by the state‑‐run “Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation”.
The monitor group worked out seven different stages which corresponding campaigns:
1 – Drafting of a strategy directed at target markets:
- Directing all activities towards these markets
- Determining pilot grapevine varieties which would be sought after in these target markets.
2 – Investment promotion of the Wine Cluster:
- Creation of large companies
- Improvement of wine quality and administrative structures
3 – Establishing definitive standards at each stage ‑‐ from the grape to marketing of the wine:
- Regulation of early retirement for winemakers of unprofitable businesses
- Payment for grapes based on quality
- Improvement of the training qualifications of management
- Increase in the area under vineyard cultivation by all vintners
4 – Foundation of Portugal’s own innovation agency within the wine industry:
- Foundation of the agency (a maximum of 2–3 people) and ensuring the promotion of research aimed specifically at making improvements which are feasible from a business point of view.
- Highlighting strategic measures based on innovative community actions (using public, private and other financial resources)
- Creation of a stronger relationship between research and private companies
- Ensuring the dissemination of research results to all those involved in the Wine Cluster
Examples of nominated innovations
- Limiting the number advertised grapevine varieties depending on how these are received by consumers
- Production of premium quality wines of a consistently high quality and steadily increase volumes produced
- Selection of grapevine clones with specific properties and adaptability to specific terroir (instead of creating a museum for the preservation of every single micro‑mutative variation)
- Strategy for the creation of resistance to fungal diseases in grapevines
- Improvements in cultivation techniques (such as irrigation, fertilization and soil improvement)
5 – Maintaining tradition while at the same time introducing innovation in specific areas:
- Coordinating innovation activities based on consumer habits
- More effective controls on quality wine
- Creation of flexible regulations on the production of wine (in order to ensure viable minimum quantities)
- Ensuring an objectively better quality in DOC wines than in wines in other categories
6 – Ongoing development of better products:
- Working out of new wine profiles which with viable production will appeal to the consumer
- Create the prerequisite that all wine producers have access to these types of wine
- Studies on how varieties adapt to respective terroir
7 – Developing a culture of quality wines:
- Revision of the DOC regulations to achieve a better quality of wine in the wine glass
- additional quality control for export wines
- Prevention of infringements of existing legislation
Notwithstanding those which have been consigned to oblivion, the measures mentioned here are currently in the process of being implemented.