Sustainability: The Latest News from Wine Industry

wine bottles


Team Terraview

Around the globe, the wine industry is rising to the challenge of creating and employing sustainable initiatives and practices that will reduce carbon footprints, regenerate vineyards, manage scarce water supplies, ward off the damage of wildfires and more — all while facing the problems that climate change brings to vineyards, cellars and the supply chain.

The weight of wine bottles received plenty of attention in the press this past month. Big names in the wine industry, including Jancis Robinson, are calling on the trade to focus on glass containers. A petition calls for bottle weight on tech sheets, reviewers including bottle weight in reviews, and “truly effective glass recycling programmes.”

As Canada’s wine industry struggles with sustainability, there’s a focus on wine bottle weight there, too. Wine Industry Advisor reports the Liquor Control Board of Ontario has a Lightweight Bottle Program that’s helping to address those struggles. It requires winemakers both in Canada and abroad to limit the weight of the bottles that are sold at a certain price point in Ontario. The control board will now incrementally increase that price point, adding more expensive wines to the program, in a bid to combat the perception that bottle weight indicates quality.

Decanter takes a look at the manner in which the wine industry is addressing climate change, including the fact that traditional round wine bottles are an inefficient shape and weight to transport and store. One solution? Wines meant to be consumed young could be shipped in bulk and packaged at local facilities in easy-to-recycle formats.

Meanwhile, Argentinian organic winery Domaine Bousquet is addressing the carbon footprint of shipping its wine bottles by committing to bottling 75 percent of its sub-£12 UK portfolio in the United Kingdom by the end of 2022, according to Harpers. This will reduce the carbon emissions of these wines by an estimated 70 percent.

The Italian OP Agritalia growers’ association experimented with a new grape cultivation technique this vintage. They wrapped grape clusters in paper bags to protect them from parasites and fungi while also eliminating treatments. Fresh Plaza reports the method did not affect the grapes’ qualitative characteristics, aroma and taste.

There’s a new organization dedicated to defining and upholding global sustainability standards. The Sustainable Wine Roundtable is an “independent, nonprofit, multi-stakeholder roundtable, founded to create and maintain global standards for sustainability in wine,” according to Wine Enthusiast. The organization is looking to involve all sectors of the industry — producers, retailers, distributors and existing environmental organizations — to create standards.

OpenEt is an online platform that provides evapotranspiration data from Landsat satellite imagery and models, free and accessible for use. Farmers, water managers, and others who more efficiently manage irrigation based on evapotranspiration. Wine Business reports that in late October NASA launched the platform that will help U.S. vineyard managers in various ways including understanding how much water their plants are consuming and collaborating “on locally driven solutions to water challenges.”

South Africa’s growing wine industry is threatening the biodiversity of the floral kingdom in the Cape Winelands, but the World Wildlife Federation has a program to help wine farms in the region decrease their environmental impact. The WWF will lend advisory support to conservationists, assisting them in setting “tangible targets and helping prioritize actions to address the most pressing environmental risks,” according to Daily Maverick.

South Africa’s WineMag takes a look at what regenerative viticulture is and why it’s good. The practice is about “farming soils not vines” and uses a variety of methods including cover cropping to improve ground ecology.

Washington Post wine columnist Dave McIntyre takes a look at carbon farming (aka carbon sequestration or regenerative farming) , a practice that is growing in the wine industry. Initiatives include composting biomass, growing cover crops between the vines, minimal use of machinery, and the use of grazing animals.

Speaking of grazing animals, Farm Progress takes a look at them in vineyards to regenerate plant and soil health as well as reduce the severity of wildfire by reducing fuel loads.

The South Australian Wine Industry Association handed out their 2021 Environmental Excellence Awards to Pirramimma Wines, RedHeads Wines, and Pernod Ricard Winemakers. InDaily reports the wineries received awards for a variety of reasons including water management, electrical self-sufficiency, and investments in renewable solar energy.

Beverage Daily reports that Moët Hennessy’s new Robert-Jean de Vogüé Research Center will focus on scientific research and sustainability. On the sustainability end, the center will focus on plant physiology, “conducting experiments on vines and grapes to meet the challenges of global warming.

The growing frequency of damaging hail storms is threatening the future of winemaking in wine’s ancient birthplace — Georgia. To try to counteract these storms that can wipe out a vineyard in a matter of minutes, Post Guam reports the country’s government is cloud seeding, “using rockets to carry silver iodide into the sky to stop ice from forming.”

Sustainability is a priority for wineries and there’s news daily about how it’s increasingly embracing its importance. So stay tuned — we’ll be bringing you roundups from time to time to keep you up to date.