May 26, 2021

Wine and Sustainability with #TheWineHacker

By @thewineinformer

This week on #TheWineHacker we are talking about the planet! We sent through some questions to our Wine Hacker Sara, aka The Wine Informer, to see what her thoughts were on the matter.

Why is sustainability important for the wine industry? 

Sustainability plays a key role in the wine industry, not just in Australia but around the world.

One of the main challenges for the future of the agricultural sector, including viticulture, on a global level, is to guarantee the quality of production while improving sustainability. In addition to this, the sector is also going to have to deal with new issues that will arise due to the effects of climate change.

Today in the production of wine particular attention is paid to the protection of the environment and the landscape. Increasingly, Australian producers are adhering to structured programs to do this, that often involve universities, research centres, associations and institutions. Through this, producers adopt coordinated and coherent activities that align with the principles of sustainable development- both in the vineyard and in the cellar.

Australia’s wine industry is one of the largest in the world, responsible for the second-largest supply of wine exported to China, behind only France. Since it’s global target markets are now more informed and aware of environmental issues than ever, producers have to take this into consideration when making wine. Adaptation refers to adjustments in ecological, social or economic systems in response to current or anticipated climate threats and their effects or impacts. It refers to changes in processes, practices and structures to moderate potential harm, or to benefit from the opportunities associated with climate change.

The harmony between wine producers and nature has never been more important.

What was it that drew your attention to sustainability in wine? 

Unfortunately there is a real environmental emergency in the world we live in, and a large portion of the world’s population has only just come to realise this. The climate has been changing for more than a hundred years. Temperatures rise, sea levels drop and disastrous weather phenomena become more frequent. Let’s look at what is happening in Australia: drought, fires, floods. The situation is serious, but perhaps still salvageable. Everyone can contribute to improving the situation, but those involved in agriculture have a central role, in my opinion. We have abused our land too much. It is time to think intelligently about what we consume and how we produce.

What are some examples of how wine can be made sustainably?

This is a question to ask our expert winemakers and winegrowers.

Making sustainable wine for me means trying to preserve natural resources for future generations. It is integration through innovation and tradition, making it possible to maintain excellent product quality with the least possible impact on the environment. It is based on a concept of integrated viticulture, a holistic outlook of the entire production process and the surrounding environment.

Look, for example, at biodynamics. It is a concept that was developed in the early 1900s by Rudolf Steiner, philosopher, researcher and founder of Anthroposophy. It represents the greatest possible respect for the environment. And with biodynamic methods, it has been shown that expressions of exceptional fruit maturity can be achieved while maintaining quality and yield. These results are heavily linked to the minerality of the earth, the climate of the year and the varietal imprint of the plant- without using pesticide or additives.

Which producers have you noticed making really great wines in a sustainable way? 

If you follow my blog, you can see that I have a particular focus on collaborating with sustainable, ethical producers. Just to name a few in Western Australia: Bunn, Below and Above Wine, Cullen Wines, McHenry Hohnen, Swan Valley Wines, Wines of Merritt, Windance and I can keep going…

There are more and more out there!

I found this website so you can check some good producers in all Australia

What should consumers look for when trying to purchase sustainable wines?

I believe that consumers already indirectly show a growing interest in products considered “sustainable”. I mention here the “Millennials” because they are the new “influencers” of the market. This new generation has a great awareness of sustainable products, and it is the new generations who will make a real difference for our future.

Sustainability practices are becoming easily recognisable, adopted and communicated transparently by large and small producers. It has become easier to choose more “sustainable”, “green” and “natural” products. It is often only by paying attention to logos and labels that you can understand the producers’ position towards environmental sustainability.

The web will also help you identify good products.

The wine industry should develop appropriate marketing programs that help consumers identify and distinguish these products on store shelves. The simpler solution of introducing labels that recall sustainable characteristics (such as carbon footprint or ethical certification) could facilitate identifying these products and effectively guide final purchasing decisions. By saying this, our institutions should facilitate and encourage the communication and certification of this type of products and not involve additional costs. And instead, penalise those who are not yet part of this movement.

Let’s turn the world in the right direction. Are you with me?

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