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From grapes to wine – how to make an indulgence more eco sustainable

I love wine! Don’t you? It’s a delightful addition to many meals and social occasions, a medium to great conversation and flavor enhancement. Being eco-conscious, I wondered what is the carbon footprint of wine? Through the years I’ve done quite a lot of research and as a result I have changed my choices around my wine selections.

The wine footprint story:

  • grapes don’t require the copious amounts of fertilizers to grow that other crops such as corn do
  • organic wines are grown without fertilizer or use of pesticides
  • wine grown using biodynamic certified practices use organic practices and emphasizes biodiversity and ecosystem preservation
  • the carbon dioxide released from the fermentation of wine grapes makes up an insignificant percentage of the total emissions associated with wine production
  • the biggest source of greenhouse gases from wine is in transporting wine to the consumer
  • transporting heavy glass bottles uses much more fuel, and therefore has a bigger impact, than lighter glass or other alternative packaging (box, tetrapack, plastic)
  • transporting bulk wine (in kegs) has a smaller carbon footprint
  • transporting wine via land or ship vs. air is a lot more carbon efficient, wine clubs that ship 2-6 bottles of wine by air have a significant impact on the environment
  • Wines sold by the glass account for up to 80% of wine sold in restaurants, which equates to approximately 600 million bottles per year. Replacing just a fraction of that with kegs or other bulk packaging would save millions of bottles from the landfill
  • if vineyards and wineries use solar panels for power production they can reduce their electricity demand significantly

How can you reduce your carbon footprint with your wine choices?

  • Buy wines from the closest location possible (i.e wines made in B.C., California, Washington, Oregon) instead of from all across the world (i.e. Australia, Italy, Argentina)
  • Opt out of the wine club if the product is being air transported
  • Consider buying wine in alternative packaging from time to time – boxed wine can be great for camping or large social gatherings IF you can get past the teasing, your family and friends will definitely tease you (I know this from experience). In B.C. you can purchase some great boxed wine options, the selections are quite limited in A.B. There are also more wine can options on the market now and cans are a much more eco-friendly option than bottles. An article written in The Sacromento Bee described that more cans will likely be coming up on the market because the demand is increasing.
  • Try a few organic wine options and see if you enjoy them – I’ve tried a few and have found a couple that I enjoy. This will be dependent on which type of wine you enjoy as most organic options I have tried have been quite mellow in taste.
  • Restaurants in Calgary are using larger wine kegs for their house wine to reduce the number of glass bottles and to reduce waste from providing wine by the glass vs. bottle (i.e. Ten Foot Henry, Craft Market, Wurst, Charcut, Original Joes, Milestones, Cactus club).
  • California vineyards and wineries are leading the way in solar panel use and California accounts for 90% of the wine production in the United States. You can choose wines from the vineyards and wineries in California using solar panels which are listed on these two websites: Chester Energy and Wine Country Getaways. 
~ Cheers ~

References:

1. https://www.livescience.com/3041-carbon-footprint-wine.html
2. https://www.biodynamics.com/biodynamic-principles-and-practices
3. https://www.sonomacounty.com/articles/biodynamic-and-organic-wineries-sonoma-county
4. https://www.sestrasystems.com/carbon-footprint-of-a-bottle-of-wine/ 5.https://chesterenergyandpolicy.com/2017/11/06/solar-power-and-wineries-a-match-made-in-heaven-and-california/
6. http://winewitandwisdomswe.com/2016/01/06/politics-grapes-and-wines-carbon-footprint/

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