Some gas in my glass? Wine and climate change (2/3)

Some gas in my glass? Wine and climate change (2/3)

Wednesday June 30th, 2010 1 By Marion

This article is the second of a series of three where I try to analyze the challenge that climate changes represents for the wine industry and the consequences for the wine consumer:

  1. How much does the wine industry contribute to climate change?
  2. TODAY: How to reduce these impacts (reduction)?
  3. What will be the medium and long term effects of climate change on wine production (adaptation)?</li>

2. What can be done to reduce these emissions?

A lot of projects are flourishing around the world to reduce the contribution of the wine and spirits industry to climate change.

Jeanjean wine pouch

The first step towards a greener wine production is to implement more sustainable practices both in the vineyard and in the cellar. That is where everything starts and, in my opinion, the most important. “Integrated”, “organic” and even “biodynamic” wine production have started to appear on wine labels 5 to 10 years ago. Some of them, like organic production, are very regulated whereas some others, like “biodynamic”, do not have any clear definition and can be used by almost anyone.

Amongst these solutions, in the Languedoc, for example, one of the leading wine distributors, Jenjean, has launched last year the “wine pouch”, a new packaging for wine that does not only reduce carbon emissions but also waste by 90%.

More recently this year, the Interprofessional Committee of Champagne Wine said it is launching a new standard bottle to cut carbon emissions. The new bottle weighs 835 grams instead of the usual 900 grams. This will cut carbon emissions by 8,000 tons a year (which corresponds to the annual emissions of 4,000 cars).

Some wineries have also started compensating their greenhouse gas emissions, some of them even becoming “carbon neutral” like Cullen Wines in Western Australia, Nuevo Mundo in South Ameica and Grove Mill in New Zealand.

What does “being carbon neutral” mean?

To become carbon neutral, a company needs to:

  • Calculte all the carbon emissions created by their activity
  • Try to reduce these emissions as much as possible (energy saving projects, new transport and logistics plans, etc)
  • Then compensate the remaining emissions by financing projects that will reduce global carbon emissions (for example financing the creation of solar oven in Central America, planting trees in Indonesia, etc.)

There is much debate about whether these projects, that are clearly a speculation on carbon emissions reductions that should happen in the future, will really have the effects that are expected or not. However, I think it is still better than doing nothing. At least it shows that some companies take climate change as a serious issue.

To conclude, as a consumer, the choices you make when you shop are very important. Trying to buy local wine is not always the best solutions because first, wine is not produced everywhere, and second, we have seen that transport is not the major factor to wine carbon emissions. Choosing wines that have been produced sustainably is the best solution, but unfortunately these information do not always appear very clearly on wine labels. Therefore it is important to learn about wine by reading (example: and attending wine tastings.

Coming next: What will be the long term effects of climate change on wine production?