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What remains to be done

Certifications

The act of certifying is born from the need to attest a fact, asserting its veracity, quality and credibility through the legal norms and policies of the respective certification authority.

The importance and value of certification must be understood by the producer and consumer as a benefit because it indicates that the products, processes, systems or services are in conformity with the regulations and national or international standards. To make sure of used the techniques, the grape varieties, the regions, the production philosophy, concepts or other values inherent to the wine, giving it the security it needs, anywhere in the world, I will indicate certifications that can add value to the final product.

We have already mentioned the Registered Designation of Origin or RDO certification, which ensures the origin and quality of the wine. Obtaining this certification is awarded by the various wine-growing committees that control a specific regional wine from a geographical territory asserting factors such as: from whence came the grapes, the soil type, the grape varieties used, the cultural practices, the wine-making methods, minimum natural alcoholic strength, the yield per hectare, oenological practices allowed, or physical-chemical and organoleptic analyses. But this certification also means protection of the culture of each region as it allows preserving the planting of vine varieties on the basis of the terroir of the region and respect of the traditional methods of wine.

The certification of organic production of wines is legislated at European level, whilst guaranteeing that they comply with the objectives and principles common to all countries and are produced in accordance with strict production standards. This certification is the responsibility of local authorities in each region and regional wine-growing commissions. It is a process that seeks to certify the production of high quality wines, with sustainable cultural practices that ensure a balanced ecosystem. The use of preventive and cultural methods of natural compounds increases the quality of the soil and of the vineyard and the quality in the final product. This certification prevents the use of synthetic chemicals such as fertilisers during the entire process of elaboration of wines, as well as the use of genetically modified agents. It is thus an important contribution to improving the sustainability of production, giving at the same time a response to food safety and preference for quality products to consumers with environmental concerns.

The certification of biodynamic wines is the uniqueness of the Dementer Company who is controlling and certifying all products. The biodynamic agriculture is based on the theories and concepts of anthroposophical medicine of Rudolf Steiner (1924). The foundations of biodynamics aim to respect the different forces of the universe, promoting biodiversity in their cultures and a sustainable balance of the environment and terroir through non use of physical and chemical agents. Like other practices, biodynamic culture promotes the equilibrium of the ecosystem with special attention to the biodynamic astrological calendar and the use of specific compounds, keeping the constant concern of preserving the balance.

The importance in which society attaches to sustainability certifications has become bigger and bigger. These practices take into account an environmental, social and economic responsibility that together reinforce the quality of life. The most known sustainability certification is the Fair Trade, which seeks to bring the consumer to the producer's social responsibility and ensure the professional quality of life. I highlight the ecological certificate still referred to as "carbon footprint" or "ecological footprint", which measures the amount of carbon dioxide produced daily and how these gas emissions affect the environment.

The study of this ecological impact is interesting in a global perspective of sustainability to develop strategies or future cultural practices of reduced production of greenhouse gases, with the ultimate goal of making a smaller carbon dioxide production to zero.

Food quality certifications such as the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) and ISSO that have in their base a preventive methodology in order to avoid risks that may cause damage to consumers, through elimination or reduction of hazards, in order to ensure that unsafe foods are not made available to the consumer. This type of certification comes to guarantee to consumers that the products certified in these standards have been elaborated in accordance with the different requirements of food quality. Food security that these certifications certify are made with effective control of the hygiene of food products to ensure the consumer that the product they buy is healthy and will not harm their health.

A still unknown certification in Portugal is the so-called "heroic viticulture," that which results from the special features that production demands, namely, the difficult and arduous working conditions in vineyards. This international certification is the uniqueness of the Centro di Ricerca, Studi, Salvaguardia, Coordinamento e Valorizzazione per la Viticoltura Montana (CERVIM) and certify wines coming from vineyards with a slope greater than 30%, over 500 m tall, or planted in terraces of difficult access that require an extraordinary effort on the part of wine-growers. This heroic work increases the terroir of the region and the asset value of the wines from these regions. In Portugal the most common examples are found in the Douro region, Azores and Madeira.

There are obviously many other certifications in addition of the ones I pointed, but the ones I mentioned represent, in my opinion, the best contribute to a valorisation strategy of the Portuguese terroir's.

Although the process of identification of which must be certified by the producer or commercial agent is difficult, the certification is a strategic tool in the sales and communication plan of a business, and it should be considered. The consumer must also be informed of the standards inherent to the certification to be able to recognise the production philosophy that wine was subjected to and their respective value.

Within the logic of valorization of the Portuguese terroir's, I believe there is much to improve on the level of certifications for the national and international recognition of wines, both promoting the winemakers "heroes", whether the certification of some wines, work with unique or use varieties of sustainable practices by producers.
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