Making use of technology and innovation, the Pagos de Araiz winery in Navarra, belonging to Masaveu Family wineries, has been working hard at becoming more sustainable through the development of several research projects aimed at respecting and improving the ecosystem involved in  the tasks carried out in the vineyards.

Along the same lines, Pagos de Araiz is coordinating the Oivina project, which proposes the development of a prediction model to fight against powdery mildew. This disease is caused by the fungus Uncinula necator and is one of the most serious diseases that causes the most damage to the harvest and brings about economic losses. In general, chemical fungicides are applied systematically, without taking into account the real risk level, when many of the applications of these products are unnecessary, cause needless expense and accumulate in the soil to then filter into the aquifers and damage the environment and even human health.

To combat this situation, Oivina proposes the development of a  prediction model for powdery mildew not only specifically adapted to the agro climatic conditions in Navarra, but also taking into account, for the first time, factors such as the crop management techniques carried out in the vineyards.

Therefore, this project implements and combines precision farming technology such as agro climatic information systems based on sensors and technology that allow for the data gathered to be studied, in order to obtain relevant information. Furthermore, the developed model includes a comprehensive tool for monitoring the crops (DSS), so that the final user not only has information on the risk of powdery mildew but also on potential diseases.

The Oivina Project is funded by the European Union and the Government of Navarra which, through the Department of Rural Development and Environment, is organising an exhibition with information panels on the pilot projects of measure 16.2 of the Plan for Rural Development in Navarra 2017-2021, amongst which Oivina can be found, from 3 to 14 November in the Palace of Congress and Auditorium of Navarra, Baluarte. This project has been developed in collaboration with the Union of Farmers and Livestock Owners of Navarra, Otazu Sau Winery and Cirbonera Cooperative Winery.

Effects of the climate change on the vineyards

Pagos de Araiz currently owns 32 hectares of vineyards, according to Organic Farming criteria and 210 according to Integrated Production criteria, which they plan to make organic in the medium-term future. As well as the Oivina project, the winery has also been developing other sustainability strategies common to the entire Masaveu Family Wineries group.

In 2020 and in collaboration with the University of Navarra, Pagos de Araiz began to develop an R+D Project to study the effects of climate change on the vineyard. In this regard, they have been working on the integrated application of new viticulture and oenological techniques in order to achieve a greater balance between the compounds specific to physiological ripening and those specific to phenolic ripening in the grape, given that the decoupling between these compounds is one of the most significant negative effects caused by climate change.

This project identifies a number of actions to be taken against climate change, such as, for example, oenological measures to correct acidity, microbiological techniques to reduce alcohol content, adaptation of measures already established in the vineyard, or cultural measures to delay the ripening of the pulp.

Reforestation, plantation of hedges and bushes and water control

Other measures adopted towards improving sustainability on the estate are related to reforestation and the planting of pine trees on sloping surfaces to avoid soil erosion and increase vegetal and forest mass, with the consequent reduction of the carbon trail. They have also planted hedges and bushes to enable, for example, the proliferation of pollinating and predator insects, and reduced the use of pesticides and herbicides. As regards water control and use, the winery prioritizes the optimization of irrigation water by carrying out monitoring using humidity probes.

About the Pagos de Araiz Winery

With the acquisition of the Pagos de Aráiz estate in Olite by the Masaveu Family in 2000, began a fresh and daring project in the traditional D.O. Navarra. This venture began with the construction of an ultra-modern 14,000-m2 château-style winery situated just outside the medieval town of Olite. Over the following three years, on the 400 hectare estate, 240 hectares of family-owned vineyards were planted with several grape varietals (tempranillo, graciano, grenache, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and syrah).

Their innovative management method and the wide variety of wine tourism activities on offer connect the historical, natural and winemaking importance of the area to art and gastronomy. The ideal scenario for a brilliant and promising future, linked to the values of Navarra, a classical yet emerging winemaking territory.

The painstaking care taken in the vineyard and the winery guarantee successful winemaking.  The combination of the vines, the state-of-the-art technology and pioneering control procedures, award an average 500,000 bottles annually.