The high demand for wine, mainly due to strict lockdowns in the first half of 2020, was certainly welcomed by many winemakers. However, on top of wine logistics and delivery issues, the sudden increase in sales is also contributing to growing concerns on sustainability.
From floods to bushfires, the industry is easily impacted by small climate changes. Plus, highly discerning consumers who research and prioritise green practices when making their purchases also affect how wineries operate now.
Luckily, Australia is quick to adapt. Sustainable Winegrowing Australia, the country’s national sustainability program for winemakers, provides resources and support to help improve practices in the wineries and vineyards.
Today, in celebration of Earth Day, we look at some environmentally friendly practices in the wine industry and a few wineries that are making positive changes for a better future.
It’s no secret that the global wine industry relies heavily on certain regions to produce wines. This means that for people to enjoy their favourite vino, bottles need to be transported via land, air or sea from the vineyard.
In Australia, transportation and glass packaging are two of the largest contributors to the industry’s carbon footprint. Glass bottles require a lot of energy to produce and move so casks, lighter bottles and cans are good alternatives.
A winery that has made significant environmental changes to its packaging is Clare Valley-based Taylor’s Wines. It makes use of O-I’s Lean+Green™ lightweight glass which is 40% lighter than most wine bottles and lowers carbon emissions down to 15% per bottle.
As with any agricultural industries, water is an essential resource in vineyards and wineries. It’s mostly used in irrigation and for cleaning and hosing down barrels, tanks and floors.
In 2015, it was reported that 440,000 megalitres of water were used to irrigate vineyards in Australia. However, with droughts becoming a constant challenge for farmers, most Aussie winemakers have found efficient ways of managing water usage and in turn, drive bills and operations costs down.
One way is choosing an irrigation system that best suits the soil characteristics, region climate, and water quality. Some other practices that reduce water usage include “cleaner production” in wineries, proper wastewater treatments and water recycling.
At Mt. Rosa Wines, they turned to technology to manage their use of water. They installed four soil water monitors that limits their usage to the right amount that the vines need and allows them to save on much needed resources.
In the early days, winemakers spent time in their farm looking for pests. However, as technology advances, the use of pesticides became a standard practice which in turn produced several health and environmental problems such as soil degradation, groundwater contamination, and death to birds and insects that play important roles in the ecosystem.
These issues have led to the increased popularity of biodynamic farming in the wine industry. This farming process considers the role of every organism in creating a healthy environment where vines grow and ensuring a sustainable environment for future generations.
South Australia’s Henschke is one of the wineries that has adapted this practice. It has eliminated herbicides and replaced inorganic fertilisers with compost from cow manure, chicken eggshells and grape marc. It also uses nectar providing plants that feed insects that help in controlling pests.
Here at WINEDEPOT, we are proud to receive the official climate neutral status from Leaders for Climate Action (LFCA). We’re committed to reduce our carbon footprint and offset any existing emissions by contributing to a carbon capturing project.