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Wine and health project underway in Spain

Nine wineries from La Rioja have been participating in a project with the aim of increasing the beneficial effects of wine on health

The effects of anti-oxidants, protection against some cancers and lower cholesterol and improved of blood sugar levels are just some of the health benefits recognised as the result of drinking in moderation wines developed for this project. The full results of the study will be available later this year.

The wineries (Bodegas Bilbaínas, Bodegas Dinastía Vivanco, Bodegas Viña Hermosa - Santiago Ijalba, Bodegas Juan Alcorta, Marqués de Murrieta, Bodegas Ontañón, Bodegas Patrocinio, Regalía de Ollauri and Bodegas Riojanas) have spent a year developing a pioneering project worldwide to elaborate wines with quercitin and reseveratrol levels 10 times higher than those currently obtained.

Throughout the 2008 production amounts of these polyphenols have been shown to be increasing at these nine selected wineries. This has been proven through a variety of tests such as, physical-chemical treatments, controls and analysis along its vegetative process pror to ripening.

The harvest has been recently completed and these special treatments have been performed on the grapes harvested. Currently the first micro-vinifications and elaborations on a pilot scale are being developped. The first R&D wines made from these grapes will be bottled during 2009.

This project is intended to deepen the connection between wine and health reinforcing naturally favourable effects for cardiovascular diseases or cancer, which have so often been described in reports and scientific studies writtten by several international agencies and have been published by magazines such as the Royal Society of Chemistry, American Chemical Society, Elsevier, Laboratoire de Nutrition et Sécurité Alimentaire.

The resulting higher level of trans-resveratrol and quercitin in these wines will enhance (through moderate consumption) effects on health as an antioxidant, as a reducer of bad LDL cholesterol values, as a protector against some kinds of cancer, improving blood sugar levels and blood flow, having anti-inflammatory properties and so on.

Avanzare and Dolmar, leaders in innovation for the wine industry in Rioja, have been directing this technical and scientific project that is still at an experimental stage. It is foreseen that after the 2009 harvest, the first wines will be commercially available to the public. Vinomio, a marketing company specialising in wine and food tourism, will be responsible for the public relations and brand development of the participating wineries.

This project is promoted by the Innovation Department of the Federation of Entrepreneurs of La Rioja (FER) with the financing of the Economic Development Agency of the Government of La Rioja (ADER) with a budget in excess of  €800.000.

1 March 2009 - Felicity Murray