What wine producers can do for climate change
Transportation and electricity are the two most significant expenditure items in a winery’s budget, and the ones with the greatest environmental impact. Cutting down transportation can be complex, but making energy-related sustainable choices is, instead, very easy and is a strong commitment for change.
The burden of transportation on my winery’s budget is very high, both from a financial and environmental point of view, and reducing its impact is not easy at all. My company is located in Sicily: we are distant from the markets, both for buying the supplies we need, and for the wines’ sales. About 90% of my wines are consumed outside the Region, so they must be transported out of the island, and 99% of the materials I need to purchase are produced outside of Sicily, so I have to import them from the continent.
First thing I did several years ago was to change the bottles: I willingly accepted a more “modest” packaging (that is now lighter than the previous one) in order to reduce the bottles’ weight and to break down my CO2 emissions. At the beginning, this caused many complaints on the customers’ side: some of them even stopped buying my wines because the bottles on the shelves appeared less "attractive" than my competitors’.
Fortunately, however, things are slowly changing.
The other day I was in Denver, and some customers complained that the color of my rosé wine is much nicer in the glass than it shows in the bottle. I explained that the color of my bottle’s glass alters the perception of La Bambina’s real color. This "bluish" hue depends on the fact that the type of bottle I use contains a high percentage of recycled glass, while the very white and very transparent bottles where normally rosé wines are bottled are not made from recycled glass: they understood it, and immediately they embraced my approach.
This confirms that it was the right decision: the wine inside the bottle is much more important than the bottle itself, and supporting environmental-friendly production choices is a great demonstration of responsibility.
One other decision that goes in the same direction is my joining the distribution system designed by Vinix Social Commerce. It is an application of the Group Purchasing method: multiple shipments merge into one shipment, which is delivered to a single address where all the buyers can pick up the wine they have ordered. A very efficient system that last year allowed me to consolidate about 360 individual shipments into 12 collective deliveries, with a remarkable reduction in costs and emissions.
If you want to know more, you can check the Vinix FAQ here (this system is only available in Italy, for the moment).
While reducing the impact of CO2 emissions from transportation is viable but still impossible to achieve completely, cutting down the environmental impact of energy consumption is, on the other hand, fast and easy to do: for that reason, I have chosen a supplier that offers 100% green energy.
Last December I switched from fossil sources to 100% renewables, and now I only use electricity from wind, photovoltaic and hydroelectric power documented by Guarantees of Origin. My new supplier, ènostra, is a non-profit cooperative that provides green power produced by ethical companies that respect selective criteria in terms of Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) responsibility.
I think it is very important that all of us wine producers - especially those with a rigorous sustainable profile who have adopted organic and biodynamic farming, and a natural winemaking approach - seriously start to think about the environmental impact of our businesses, and not to just focus on our primary agricultural production. I believe it makes no sense to stop spraying herbicides and agrochemicals in the vineyards while continuing to consume electricity from fossil sources to operate our machineries.
In the day of the first Global Climate Strike For Future, a responsible act from every winegrower and food producer would be a very important and genuine commitment for change.