Wines of Alentejo Sustainability Programme


WASP intends to support the improvement on the environmental, social and economic performance of the region's winemaking activities and to promote the recognition of the sustainability performance of the region's wines as an instrument to respond to an existing market failure and to affirm Alentejo brand in internal and external markets.


 It also seeks:

  • The integration of the entire Alentejo wine sector in a philosophy of social, environmental and economic well-being at local and regional level, with emphasis on the incorporation of eco-efficiency principles with the objective of promoting a more efficient use of resources, reduction and reuse of by-products thus reducing internal operating costs
  • The production of Alentejo wines with recognized sustainable performance, resulting from the incorporation of knowledge acquired in R&D projects
  • Identifying producer performance, comparing the output from producers (business cooperation), and defining areas for improvement and action plans that will change production practices;
  • The definition of the certification process according to the sustainable production benchmark that will allow the recognition of the quality of Alentejo wines for their sustainability performance, avoiding exposure to reputation risks.


In this context, this project has the financial support of the European Union through the Alentejo Regional Operational Programme


Policy for the Wines of Alentejo Sustainability Programme 

Wine production is totally dependent on natural resources: solar energy, appropriate weather conditions, clean drinking water and healthy soils. These elements should be successfully integrated in an environmentally responsible way. The Alentejo Regional Wine Growing Commission considers that protection and enhancement of these natural resources through sustainable practices performed by a well-trained and highly skilled work force is a priority.



Why a Wines of Alentejo Sustainability Programme (WASP)?

To connect competitiveness with environmental objectives and create opportunities from a sustainability strategy geared to:

  • Reduce costs and increase economic viability
  • Encourage pro-activity to deal with increasing environmental pressures
  • Respond to social concerns
  • Improve the quality and competitiveness of the final product
  • Reduce production waste
  • Minimise risk and exposure to liabilities
  • Place the product in new markets
  • Integrate a network of producers with similar sensitivities
  • Ensure longevity of the business
  • Provide greater transparency within the supply chain and implement intelligent communication strategies



WASP is a voluntary initiative organised by the Alentejo Regional Wine Growing Commission that targets the grape and wine producers in Alentejo. Collective sustainability plans are common practice in some world wine regions and have been gaining importance in markets where Alentejo wines have also been gaining position. International and domestic markets are starting to demand the application of sustainability principles.


WASP should in addition provide the domestic Portuguese market with such information is rightfully could demand.


In order to implement WASP, members are first required to perform a self-assessment. The self-assessment consists of a standardised method, aligned with the Programme, to ultimately give a level of performance against an assessment matrix. It is intended that this self-assessment is aligned with the classic method of continuous improvement of a system and therefore, members will be required to conduct a self-assessment every year.


The self-assessment is organised into three distinct sectors (Viticulture; Cellar; Viticulture & Cellar). This distinction between sectors has to do with the type of producers amongst the members of the Alentejo Regional Wine Growing Commission.



The first implementation phase, called Primary Intervention Chapters, was developed for these three general sectors of wine production. In a second implementation phase, called Secondary Intervention Chapters, the evaluation method will include additional chapters estimated for implementation in the second half of 2018.



After completion of the self-assessment for the 11 Primary Intervention Chapters, an overall ranking called the ‘General Sustainability Category’ will be established. This ranking will fall within one of four ranges defined for the General Sustainability Category (Pre-Initial, Initial, Intermediate and Developed). The 11 Primary Intervention Chapters were developed with 108 criteria.



Example of Chapter 4, Criteria 1 - Management of Disease & Pests in the Vineyard 


The ultimate goal for every WASP member is continuous improvement. This will be achieved through the identification of opportunities for improvement and the development and implementation of annual action plans, in order to achieve in the medium term, the General Sustainability Category of ‘Developed’.


Once WASP members have established which category they fit into, the Secondary Intervention Chapters will be made available and the same method applied. Only when the WASP member reaches the General Sustainability Category of ‘Developed’ for the Secondary Intervention Chapters, can they proceed to a third party validation and formal recognition of sustainability for their production process.


In order to ensure credibility of the project, the results of the self-evaluation for each WASP member will be subjected to an internal audit by the Alentejo Regional Wine Growing Commission. The self-evaluation will serve as an annual individual diagnosis on the sustainable practices of WASP members.


Example of the Self Assessment form for Chapter 4, Management of Disease & Pests in the Vineyard (GDPV)


General Sustainability Category

The General Sustainability Category will be established after completion of the self-assessment for the 11 chapters available, as shown below.


Minimum Value Required for Designation of the General Sustainability Category of WASP



The ultimate goal for every WASP member will be to work towards their own continuous improvement in order to ultimately reach the General Sustainability Category of ‘Developed’.


Results from the first 3 years: 2015-2017

For more information about WASP please contact the Sustainability Department of the Alentejo Regional Wine Commission.