Smart defends stance on organics13th September, 2011 by Lucy Shaw
Australian viticulturalist Dr Richard Smart has spoken out in defence of his controversial stance on organics.
His views caused a flurry of negative comments on the drinks business website in June, when he dubbed organics “a nonsense.”
The leading global consultant on viticultural methods writes in the September issue of db: “I am as dedicated to preserving the environment and passing it on to the next generation as any of your readers.
“However, I remain to be convinced that organic and biodynamic methods of viticulture are better for the environment.”
Smart continued: “I can understand the angst this caused some readers. I mentioned in passing the use of chemical fertilisers on land for food production, and drew a parallel with permitted chemicals used in wine and food production.
“Interestingly, the recent poisonings in Europe due to mutated strains of E. coli were traced to an organic farm. E. coli is encouraged to mutate in animal guts, and so animal manure can be a source of these dangerous microbes.”
Though unconvinced of the merits of organics, Smart does support one element of the practice: “There is one point where I fully endorse organic viticulture, and that is for its regard for soil carbon content.
“Long term studies have shown that the major impact of vineyards on the environment is mining of soil carbon and increased soil compaction.”
Smart is due to take part in a debate hosted by WSET on whether the UK trade should promote organic and biodynamic wines with leading biodynamic winemaker Monty Waldin on 1 December at the WSET headquarters in London’s Bermondsey Street.
Tickets for the debate, which starts at 7pm, cost £35 and can be booked via www.wsetglobal.com
Dr Smart’s column is published in full in the September issue of the drinks business.