Moving to a sustainable wine industry
As the wine industry faced further climatic challenges in 2021 we were all reminded of the fires that raged through the vineyards of California in 2020. This year in a sense of cruel irony it was Spring frost that loomed over the vineyards of France, with fires lit across Burgundy in a bid to protect the fledgling fruit.
The consequences of climate change are now being felt across the world, impacting our everyday lives and for many industries presenting significant challenges. In the wine industry many are now facing up to this reality and putting sustainability at the very centre of their business. While the impact of winemaking is by no means the largest contribution to climate change, every industry must address the issue.
Sustainability has become a central pillar to our brand identity and when it comes to sustainable winemaking no producer better exemplifies this approach than one of our own agencies Long Meadow Ranch. LMR prove that both sustainability and exceptional winemaking are jointly achievable and having seen first hand the devastation of the 2020 fires, they know better than anyone the need for action, striving for sustainable growing, sustainable winemaking and sustainable wine tourism.
Long Meadow Ranch Cattle
It may not be immediately apparent but the wine industry poses a multitude of challenges to the environment. Vineyards risk over working the land they are planted on, reducing the mineral levels and limiting flora diversity. Sustainable winemaking therefore must start in the vineyard.
Sustainable production, is about producing or operating in a way that is economically viable while, protecting the natural assets used in the production process. This means not treating vineyards as simple monocultures, limiting or removing the use of pesticides while still producing a high quality product.
Full circle farming, compost and solar power as well as a 'Land Trust' are all central to the farming process at Long Meadow and while organic certification for wine in the US requires no SO2 is used in the winemaking process, the farming practices at the Ranch are organic. Visit the LMR site to read more about their holistic farming approach:
Organic wine certification requirements vary from country to country and can cover the whole wine production process. Most critically the certification requires that no pesticides are used in the vineyard. Pesticides can reduce biodiversity and damage the soil balance, while some pest control methods have large energy outputs. In the EU there are now 20 organically certified pesticides so there are still options available to protect the vines. Critically research suggests that vineyards adopting organic farming have on average 50% more wildlife.
Sustainable Wine Tourism
Beyond the wine itself a major part of the wine industry is tourism, and the economic activity this brings to the winery. Having visitors for tours and tastings is important not only for the sustainability of winemaking as a business but also to bring people in to the winery to educate and entertain people on the topic of wine. The popularity of Urban wineries and microbreweries is a good thing as it brings the production process closer to the inner city consumer and allows winery experiences without travelling far afield. Wine tourism is clearly important but, much like the winemaking and the vineyard management it has to be sustainable. The popularity of digital tastings during the last couple of years is an example of how winery experiences can be brought to the consumer, however when wine tourism is done in person, a proportion of revenues can be used to net the carbon impact of such activity and reinvest in to sustainable practices across the wine business.
Sustainability in everything we do will become common place in the coming years and wine should be no exception. Many of our producers and the wines we stock are certified organic or deploy organic farming practices and these wineries and their wines are living proof that sustainability and excellent wine are not mutually exclusive. A care for our planet often reveals a more overarching characteristic or care, attention to detail, and understanding of the bigger picture, all of which are hugely beneficial to producing exceptional wine.
With thanks to Long Meadow Ranch for use of imagery.