Wine making and viticulture site

Moldova: from average quality wines – to privileged, ecologically pure ones

In order to improve the quality of grapes, as raw material for the industry, and finally the quality of significant volumes of Moldovan wines, PHD of Agricultural Sciences Rafael Haciaturyan considers that it is necessary to change radically agricultural equipment of the viticulture.

The author of the article suggests growing vines without intensive usage of tractors, agricultural mechanisms, without application of herbicides and mineral fertilizers.

Instead of all above listed, it is recommended, basing on practical experience and scientific researches, to introduce new organic-biological system in order to preserve the soil of the vineyards row-spacing by using siderite as green fertilizers.

It is well-known that after a severe stagnation, viticulture and wine making industry began, again, to develop, and at present it is considered to be a key and priority field. Its reinforcement can be observed today within each company. New plantings can be noticed everywhere, wineries are endowed with more perfect production equipment. It is remarkable, that it occurs basing on a special program, elaborated at initiative of state administration and government, which foresees integration of viticulture and winemaking industry in Moldova.

Such a strategic industry development, naturally, it is necessary to connect with the quality of wine products and opportunity of their realization on international markets. It is required, not once, to return to this issue, since in market conditions, realization of wine products is determined only by their quality and competitiveness. We should be grateful that Moldovan climate allows us to produce such competitive products. Big number of diplomas, gold and silver medals, awarded during international tastings, confirm this. Unfortunately, we have to recognize, that high quality grades are offered, for time being, to insignificant volumes of republic wine products. As for important volumes, they are, more likely, appreciated as average quality. And no wonder that experts of administration structures, as a whole, appreciate the quality of wine products produced in republic as “satisfactory”, but not more. This bounds promotion of Moldovan wine products on European markets.

In present review, we would like to show, why alongside with achievements in winemaking sector, important volumes of Moldovan wine are appreciated as of satisfactory quality, and in a number of cases, even, of low quality. A question arises: what kind of measures it is necessary to undertake in order to increase the quality and competitiveness of important volumes of wine products?

In our opinion, the main reason conceals in technology used for vine-growing and wine making industry. In order to solve the problem of quality increase of important volumes of Moldovan wine it is necessary: first of all, fundamentally, to change traditionally existing agricultural equipment for growing of vines used as raw material for production of high quality wine products. As, long-term, observations show, present agricultural machinery, with intensive mechanical soil tilling, is far from being perfect. Such agricultural equipment, alongside with deficient use of ecological resources (layout of a slope…) and absence of efficient agro-technical techniques for soil fertility increase, do not provide, as it is necessary – everywhere, stable, from year to year – accumulation of sufficient quantity of sugar in grapes juice. As a result, from total gross vintage, a significant part received for industrial processing, does not correspond to established standards, and this is one of the main reasons of quality decrease of produced wines, which are characterized by small alcohol strength and high acidity.

In the past, decrease of wine quality was not causing a lot of anxiety, since its realization and sale were carried out anyway, in established, scheduled, procedure. Nowadays, in market economy conditions, when realization of goods depends only on their quality, solution of given problem becomes, in our opinion, a primary, urgent task.

As is well known, till present, existing agricultural techniques in viticulture include: autumn and spring plowing of vineyards row-spacing, during summer, 3-4 times soil cultivation, for weed combating, use of herbicides, utilization of mineral fertilizers, which are, as well, synthetic chemistry, by their composition. Besides, it is necessary to take into account that given traditional agricultural techniques include repeated tractor passages and repeated vineyard soil densification under fallow land (black fumes). Repeated cultivation and tillage during the year, leads to degradation of soil structure, deterioration of water regime and its physical and chemical properties, decrease of organic substances number and soil depletion by humus, and consequently, causes increase of erosive processes, environment pollution and finally decrease in grapes quality, as raw material of the industry. All above listed brings us to imperative necessity to establish a new organic-biological system for vineyard soil preservation, which would affect less its structure and physical characteristics, and would enrich constantly the soil with new resources of organic substance.

It is appropriate to refer to the researches, which have been carried out on industrial vineyard tract of former state farm “Ialoveni” during 1975-1987, which confirmed appropriateness of replacing, in Moldovan conditions, traditional vineyard techniques of republic with new – organic-biological system, applying siderites as fertilizers.

For example, annual sowing in row-spacing of vineyards, starting with autumn (namely October), of winter rye with subsequent mowing down in May of the following year and one plowing of 15-18 cm depth in autumn, during 4-5 years, allows to accumulate in soil around 300-335 tones of green or 85 tones of dried vegetal material. At the same time, humidity of soil in row-spacing of vineyards is increasing, more than, by 2%. Increase of soil humidity under influence of siderites is explained by the fact that vegetal material, accumulated during a number of years, creates a stratum of organic substance properties of a sponge, which on one side prevents evaporation of humidity, and on the other side – facilitate a more complete absorption of precipitation and melt waters. It leads to improvement of soil nutrient medium, dissociation/reduction of organic substance inside and vineyards supply with accessible and easy-assimilating forms of nourishing mineral elements.

Soil enrichment with vegetal material of winter rye, thus, making active microbiological processes in the interior, evidently improves its agro-production properties, mechanical, physical and chemical structures. Percentage of carbohydrates, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and other nourishing elements in grape organs increases, therefore permitting appreciably to raise productivity and quality of grapes, as industry raw material.

Analysis of chemical composition of wine products also reveals that under exposure to siderites, increase of sugar percentage has a beneficial effect on chemical structure of wine products. They are remarkable for a higher content of alcohol, glycerin, phenol and aromatic/flavor substances, which, finally, lead to increase of general extract content. These wine products are notable for their apparent sensory properties.

It is necessary to mention that using siderites as organic fertilizers for vineyards row-spacing, we obtain, not only, increase in productivity and quality of grapes and its ecological improvement, but also, a considerable reduction of incurred expense. Since, it is well know that one of the reasons of high cost of grapes are expenses related to repeated mechanical tillage and soil maintenance during the year. It is enough to mention that more than 25% from the total of the expenses incurred on one hectare of vineyards due to mechanical tillage and soil maintenance, which considerably increases the price of grapes as raw material and the price of finished goods after its processing.

In our opinion, even from such a brief review can be drawn the conclusion that replacement of traditional agricultural technology (fallow land/black fume) in viticulture with organic-biological system is advantageous, justified and in present market conditions, necessary for obtaining high quality vintage and in final stage, big volumes of high quality Moldovan wine products.

Second stage is industrial processing of the grapes and production of wine, which quality can be guaranteed, of course, under condition of strict observance of existing in winemaking industry technology of wine production, including technologies of low-acid wines production and optimal use of sulfurous anhydride.

The entire set of procedures on new vine growing and winemaking technology, naturally, needs to be accompanied, during 3-4 years, by analysis and corresponding documentation, which shall be provided to Standardization and Metrology Service, with the purpose to receive license on quality of significant volumes of wine products.

Further improvement of agro-technical methods of winegrowing and winemaking technology, definitely, will stimulate an increase in production volumes of privileged, ecologically pure Moldovan wines.

Rafael HACIATURYAN,
PHD of Agricultural Sciences,
honored industrial worker of Republic of Moldova