In recent years, winemakers have begun to participate in environmental initiatives to reduce the impact of wine production on the environment. There are many initiatives that have been undertaken and, thankfully, we will see many more. Today, some of the success stories related to wine production from a sustainable perspective are based on the following methodologies.
The use of solar panels is increasingly becoming a constant feature in wineries. Far Niente pioneered the use of solar panels in California in 2008. The winery was the first to test the system called Floatovoltaic. Also De Bortoli, with the largest solar panel in Australia and Jackson Family Wines is already building the largest solar installation for a vineyard existing so far.
Jackson Family Wines has a water conservation strategy that allows them to save 9 gallons per year in California; Borboli Down Under in Australia created a green farm to reuse waste water to irrigate their grain and fodder crops. Concha y Toro was the first winery in the world to measure its water footprint in 2010: about 97% of the irrigation water they use comes from groundwater sources.
Ven Cava, located in the Guadalupe Valley in Mexico, opened a cellar with a roof made from recycled ships. The couple Alejandro D'Acosta and Claudia Turrent designed these vaulted ceilings and decorated the walls with old glasses from a local factory. In Chianti, the Antinori building designed by the architectural firm Archea Associati was made to harmonize with the landscape, with rows of vines in the ceiling and holes that fill the interior with light.
Drones are helping winemakers to defend themselves against diseases that kill their vines. The magnate Bernard Magrez, Airbus and Bordeaux engineers, plus a financing from BIVB made possible the testing of drones to detect diseases of vines. The idea is that what drones detect can be used in order to obtain better results.
In New Zealand geothermal energy is used to produce 13% of electricity supply in the country. They are lucky to get 70% of its energy from renewable sources and hope to increase this figure to 90% by 2025. In California, geysers are one of the two locations with high temperature geothermal resources, used to power turbines and generate electricity.
Last year went on sale the first paper wine bottle called Paperboy. Made of compressed paper, recycled and printed with natural inks, this 65 grams bottle has been created by the manufacturer Greenbottle, the beverage packaging designers Stranger and Stranger, and Californian producer True-Hurst.
“Paperboy is as green as it is possible to make a bottle of wine”, says Kevin Shaw from Stranger and Stranger. “It weighs only one ounce empty, and so a huge amount of energy is saved in shipping; it is rigid and strong, and safe for three hours in an ice bucket”.
Wine cooperative Plaimont decided to lead an innovative initiative against climate change, reviving ancient grapes that naturally have low alcohol content and are planted in sandy deep soil, allowing the vineyards to survive roots diseases, decreasing therefore the pesticide use. In a 39 hectares plot different varieties of grapes are planted, of which 12 grapes are unknown to the wine world.
The Cono Sur winery in Chile also marked its green attitude with transport: all workers use bicycles to move within the facilities. This winery compensates 100% of its carbon emissions, so it was awarded in 2011 with the “Green Company Of The Year” in the “Green Awards”. “The bicycle symbolizes the passion of Cono Sur, commitment and respect for the environment”, says head oenologist Adolfo Hurtado, and adds: “Cycling is my favourite hobby, I use my mountain bike whenever I can and I carry it on vacation”. At the Chimbarongo facilities there is a giant sculpture of a bicycle located in the heart of the vineyard.
In the same vein, at Cono Sur they also use a flock of geese to reduce the cost of fuel used to plough the vineyards. In Bordeaux, Château Pontet-Canet is the first winery to use this process with horses, and the same pattern has been repeated in Rhône by Michel Chapoutier, biodynamic producer with sheep.
One way that green mentality vineyards have increased their biodiversity is through the production of honey. In Pessac-Léognan, Château Brown released his first batch of honey for vintage 2011. Produced by 20 beehives located near the Bordeaux vineyards, 65000 bees fed with flowering acacias made possible the vintage. Hives contribute to pollination of vines, their bees help reducing the amount of insecticides used in the vineyard. The director of Château Brown, Jean-Christophe Mau considers the possibility of increasing the number of hives in the coming year because, in addition, honey is put on sale in the estate shop.
This green initiative inspired Emiliana in Chile, where employees develop a parallel project that includes the production of honey, olive oil, herbs and vegetables that provide an extra income to the people involved.
In the line of this post, we propose today wines already produced organically, minimizing the environmental impact caused by working the vines.
Château Jonc Blanc Les Sens du Fruit is na organic wine of the Wines without Appellation (France) DO.
Porto J.W. Hart Réserve Ruby Bio Rouge is a organic wine with DO Port and 20º of alcohol strength.
Pinord is the maker of this Natura Ecologico 2012, an organic wine with this DO: Penedes with the best bunches of xarel·lo from the 2012 vintage.