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Sustainable viticulture in France

Published: 17/03/2020

Today, many food and drink sectors in France are committed to the High Environmental Value (HEV) certification from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry. The Cognac industry is one such sector which has chosen to go further in their commitment to sustainability. The Cognac industry association, Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC), has built the national certification scheme into a collective system of additional sustainability standards.

BNIC encourages all Cognac winegrowers to improve their standards of production by focusing on six sustainability pillars:

  1. Sustainability of the vineyard.
  2. Protection of the environment: use of confined spraying technology limiting the pollution of the environment.
  3. Reducing the use of phytosanitary products: ban of chemical weeding and use of alternative techniques.
  4. Management of effluents from both viticulture and distillation.
  5. Training, Health and Security.
  6. Promote dialogue between winegrowers and their neighbours.

Training and tools are provided to local winegrowers to assess their level of compliance and then implement the technical specifications of the certification scheme. The procedure is undertaken in three steps:

  • Step 1: Winegrowers decide to join the initiative. They are invited to participate in group training and they receive a diagnosis of their production process.
  • Step 2:  Winegrowers implement the certification plan with the help of atechnical guide authorized by the BNIC.
  • Step 3: Winegrowers receive their Cognac HEV Environmental certification and they adhere to the collective structure supported by the BNIC for a renewable period of 3 years.

By February 2020, 2276 out of 4500 French winegrowers signed up to join the first level of commitment. This number represents 51% of the winegrowers and 67% of the Cognac vineyards.

The Cognac certification is monitored by independent inspectors accredited by the French Ministry of Agriculture and winegrowers must remain fully compliant with the requirements of the certification scheme or they can lose it.

BNIC is aiming to have 100% of winegrowers in Cognac to be certified by 2030.

The Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac is a member of spiritsEurope.

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