Wine & The Green Movement

Where do you stand?

I started this post with a question I was looking for an answer to.  I ended it with the realization that the question is more important than any single solution… If we don’t ask the right questions, how will we ever come up with the answers?

I love great wine, made traditionally with a real cork and aged perfectly in a dark glass bottle.  If it’s made Sustainably'(considering the environment, the people involved, and all the methods of production, etc.), then we can consider that a “sustainable” wine producer will have a relatively low carbon footprint, right?  I think so, to some degree… 

One of the issues that doesn’t seem to be discussed often, I realized while reading an article about the Wine-in-Can industry, is that glass bottles are extremely heavy, and therefore costly and not as “green-friendly” to transport all around the world as we may have once believed.  Innovation is a great thing.  And as we come up with newer and more efficient ways of living and sharing, and consuming goods, it is our responsibility to adapt and change with the times, as difficult as it may seem at first.

So, if we recycle the glass, then we probably are doing the best we can to continue making wine in the traditional way, and make it as green as possible, right?

I always encourage people to explore and learn about wines made Sustainably, Organically,  BioDynamically, or any number of the more environmentally friendly ways of producing healthy grapes and wines … not necessarily because I want to save all the earth muffins, or latch on to the newest marketing trend (it happens, and clouds up the clear benefits of the movement), but mostly because I truly believe that wines made this way (by thoughtful winemakers and farmers) are higher in quality and give pure expressions of what they are, and what they are “supposed to be”.

I’m not at all saying I think fine wine should go in cans, but I am posing the questions with the attempt to come up with some alternative solutions that make sense, and work better for everyone involved.  

Is this issue worth addressing, and if so, how do we address it?  Lighter glass bottles?  A group of talented and thoughtful Napa innovators, Band of Vintners are doing just that for their more affordable Cabernet, including using plant based, carbon neutral corks… but who else is jumping on this (bad pun alert) Bandwagon?   That won’t work for high pressure sparkling wines like Champagne, Cava, Prosecco, etc. Glass makers spent many years doing the opposite just to avoid the bottles from breaking in Champagne hundreds of years ago!  

 I think we’d all agree that plastic is not a great solution for wine, unless of course your favorite wine does come in a 3L bag in box… in which case, enjoy… you are doing your part… I just can’t promise you are getting the best wine experiences you could be :-).  I can’t stand how reliant we are on plastic for just about everything these days, but that’s a whole other topic.  It does have its benefits, I just don’t think we fully understand the downsides of plastic, we could probably use some more sustainable innovation there, but I still don’t know if it’s right for the world of wine .

It’s 2021. We live in a consumer world. We market and advertise to it.  Consumption is how most of us make a living in some way or other.  So it is an issue I believe both producers and consumers need to address at the same time. Consumers have to be willing to accept change and innovation as fast as the producers and manufacturers can create and market more positive, consumer friendly and environmentally friendly products, services, and content.  

These are challenges that many companies and consumers are facing, more now that we ever cared to think about 100 or even 50 years ago.

I know the wine industry is just a small portion of the world, but it is the biggest group of people that I can attempt to influence, and I’d like to grow with a group of people who feel that we can all do our part, in small and bigger ways to contribute to more longterm sustainability for the ENTIRE industry.  

Why shouldn’t large companies who are always fighting to gain market share want to have better, more environmentally friendly, quality products to sell to their customers?  Why shouldn’t consumers expect more quality from the brands they support?

If we all just asked , “How can I make a positive impact?” and put in a little more effort every day to actually make that impact, I believe we will come up with the solutions we need.  What can you do today that will make you world, and the world of those around you a little better today? Let’s create some great events with wineries and producers who do want to make a difference in the quality of the world we live in, and the quality of the wine we get to enjoy!

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