“Sustainability”, the flavour-of-the-month? | New Brief #219

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It seems everyone is talking about sustainability these days. We’ve recently been in at least three webinars on sustainability. Wine regions are announcing sustainability programmes. Wine producers and other wine industry companies (retailers, for example) go sustainable.

That is, of course, good. But will the flavour-of-the-month next year be something different? It should not be. Sustainability is important. And it is something that you will have to work on in the long term. That we will all have to work on long-term.

But there are many issues around sustainability.

Some people think sustainability is an alternative to being “organic” (certified). It is not unusual to hear the comment “winery XYZ is more clever, they are sustainable instead of the straight-jacket of organics”. This is a mistake. There is no conflict or contradiction opposing sustainable with organics. Sustainable cannot replace organics. Nor should sustainable wine production be seen as some kind of “organics light”, or first phase in converting to organics.

Instead, sustainable wine production and organic wine production are mainly complementary concepts. Both are good for the environment. But they focus on different things. To put it simply, organics is mainly about what tools, techniques and substances you use in the vineyard and in the wine cellar. Sustainability is mainly about resource use, biodiversity and emissions. The two concepts are partially overlapping, but many producers chose, with good reason, to be both sustainable and organic.

Certification for sustainability is complicated. There are many different certifications for sustainability and they are all slightly different. And almost none is “official”. It’s difficult for the consumer to understand. New Zealand is one of the countries that have come furthest in sustainability and they have only one certification. Maybe others should follow?

Organics, on the other hand, is simple. There is only one definition of what “organic” means (at least if we stay in the EU and most of the rest of the world, excepting the US), and it is enshrined in official EU law. If it is “organic” we know exactly what the rules say.

A further complication is that it is not always easy to know what is good and what is bad. Is natural cork more sustainable than screw cap? Perhaps. “Buy local” is supposed to be sustainable. But it can cause less CO2 emissions to transport wine by ship from Chile to California than to truck it across the continent. Less greenhouse gas emissions for wine shipped from South Africa to Europe than by lorry from Italy to Sweden…?

There are not necessarily any easy and simple answers. No “yes, this is good. No, this is bad”. Maybe we – consumers – have to make a bit more of an effort to understand the issues if we want to help save the planet?

If you want to understand some of the issues better, you can read our feature article on sustainable wines (including links to in depth articles on organics too).

Christmas approaches. And winter is at full speed ahead.

What could be better then than thinking about a wine tour this spring? Or this fall. A Christmas present for someone else or maybe for yourself.

We have some really exciting wine tour destinations among the spring wine tours and the autumn wine tours.

We have also published the preliminary programs for the long-distance journeys to the southern hemisphere that we hope to be able to make in the winter of 2023. Chile-Argentina, South Africa and New Zealand. Three unforgettable wine tours.

Isn’t it so that we are all starting to long for some new discoveries these days?

If you want to discover the best in the wine regions and get some unforgettable memories, travel with one of the most experienced and most knowledgeable wine tour operators.

More info on our wine tours here.

Enjoy the Brief!

Britt & Per

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Label on a wine bottle with New Zealand Certified Sustainable Winegrowing
Label on a wine bottle with New Zealand Certified Sustainable Winegrowing, copyright BKWine Photography
Italian sustainable branding on a wine from Tenute Olbios, SQNPI Qualita Sostenibile
Italian sustainable branding on a wine from Tenute Olbios, SQNPI Qualita Sostenibile, copyright BKWine Photography
Label on a wine bottle with sign HVE, Haute Valeur Environnementale
Label on a wine bottle with sign HVE, Haute Valeur Environnementale, copyright BKWine Photography
Label on a wine bottle with sign Certified Sustainable Wine of Chile
Label on a wine bottle with sign Certified Sustainable Wine of Chile, copyright BKWine Photography

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