Earth Day (April 22) was the perfect time to reflect on sustainable winemaking. After all, without Mother Earth there would be no wine. The dirt, soil, sun and climate all play a major role in what ends up in your glass.
Good winemakers know that you never really own a vineyard, you merely steward it for the next generation. Really good winemakers strive to minimize their impact on the environment and planet. This ranges from using eco-friendly products in all aspects of production, reuse and recycling of glass, paper and cardboard, composting organic waste and materials, being mindful of energy and water consumption and eliminating unfriendly filtration technologies. These practices not only make for high quality grapes and wine, it can also enhance relations with employees and communities, save wildlife habitats, preserve local ecosystems, and improve the economic vitality of vineyards and wineries.
Here are just a few wine regions doing their part to make sustainability the new normal:
· Spain leads in terms of organic wine production, accounting for nearly 30% of the world's organic wines. With over 100,000 hectares allocated to organic wine growing, it is the EU country with the largest area dedicated to organic vineyards. [Source: Spanish Ministry of Agriculture]
· Chile has one of the world’s most extensive sustainability accreditation programs in the world with 76 wineries certified by the Wines of Chile Sustainability Code, representing over 80 percent of its total wine exports. [Source: Wines of Chile]
· Sonoma is well on its way to becoming the first 100% certified sustainable wine region in the United States. As of December 2018, 89% of Sonoma County vineyard acreage has been certified through a sustainability program. [Source: Sonoma County Winegrowers]
· Oregon is home to the U.S.’s most protective land use policies, enacted the first bottle recycling law, and has the highest minimum wage for farm workers. [Source: Willamette Valley Wine]
· Mendocino leads the U.S. in organic vineyard acreage and is home to some of the nation’s largest producers of organic, biodynamic and sustainable wine. It’s also a source of under-appreciated and great-value wines! [Source: CCOF 2016]
· 98% of New Zealand’s winegrowing area is Sustainable Winegrowing NZ certified, a world-leading program holding winemakers accountable to sustainable practices and encouraging innovation. [Source: New Zealand Wine]
This is just a glimpse of the wide-ranging sustainability practices that have been adopted in regions and wineries around the world. Now, it’s up to consumers to seek out and support these winemakers who are doing their part to help the planet. Look for these symbols:
Mother Earth doesn’t need us, we need her. So, save the planet, it's the only one with wine! Please sip consciously.
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