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Bodegas Marqués de Vizhoja experiments with coffee to reduce fungal disease

Bodegas Marqués de Vizhoja looks to coffee machine waste in a move to reduce fungal disease at the same time as improving sustainability.

Galicia is the wettest region in all of Spain with average rainfall starting from 800mm in the driest areas all the way up to 2,200mm for those along the Atlantic coast.

Given this concern, fungal issues in the vineyards are quite common and viticulture has been adapted accordingly, for example with vines being trained to pergolas or by higher trellising which allows for good air circulation. In addition, the use of antifungal chemical treatments is widespread to contend with issues such as Esca, Petri and Black foot disease.

Talking to Decanter, Javier Peláez, the owner of Bodegas Marqués de Vizhoja said, ‘It’s been this heavy reliance on chemicals which was one of the reasons that we’ve been investigating alternative treatments for the vineyards that don’t rely on chemicals and are ultimately more sustainable.’

This new line of research has seen them introduce spent coffee grounds in the vineyards as one of several potential methods to thwart fungal development and maintain health in the wood of the vines.

Peláez said, ‘It’s an exercise in circular economy: the waste from coffee machines is given value again by being used in our vineyards, creating a cross-economy link between Galician companies in addition to the sustainability aspect.’

They’ve been working with Galician coffee producer, Verdadero c.a.f.e. whose director, Gustavo Cascón, said that they collected 900kg of spent grounds for the initial phase of the project.

There have been trials in an orchard located in the town of Arteixo where they’ve used coffee grounds purely as a fertiliser. But now in 2022 they’ve started in the vineyards and will see it run as a trial for the next three years, in three different plots of Albariño grapes. In total Marqués de Vizhoja has 40ha, which are primarily Albariño but additionally Loureiro and Treixadura, other varieties traditional to the region.

In addition to working to minimise chemical intervention, Peláez told Decanter, ‘Our grandparents would use coffee historically in our gardens as a fertiliser and so we’re working to bring a bit of the past into the present and see if we can improve upon it to the benefit of our vines.’

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