Wine and Sustainability | What Can Be Done?

Harry Lambourne
11th January 2024

Let’s talk about wine and sustainability. As with any mass produced goods, wine has an environmental footprint. But, what can be done to mitigate this?

Winemakers are nothing if not ingenuitive and they regularly face monumental problems which they must overcome to make ends meet. This can include frosts killing the vines, phylloxera and other pests devastating whole regions, or indeed global warming causing new and ever increasing issues, (such as wildfires and the related issue of smoke taint).

Forest Fires & Smoke Taint In Wine
Forest Fires & Smoke Taint In Wine

Indeed, this last issue of global warming is inextricably linked to the idea of wine and sustainability. Wine, (like all goods and services), needs to be sustainable if we want our children and their children to be enjoying the vino that has graced our lives.

So, we are going to take a deeper look into the issue of wine and sustainability. We will take a look at how winemakers are approaching the issue of wine and sustainability and what things you could look out for if you want to support these various tactics and initiatives.

Wine And Sustainability – Organic, Biodynamic and Vegan Wines

Conventional winemaking will often involve spraying of harmful chemical and pesticides and the inclusion of animal byproducts in the filtration process. However, more and more winemakers are adopting organic, biodynamic and vegan practices to forego these elements and have far less of a negative effect on the surrounding environment and nature as a whole.

Organic and Biodynamic Wines

We at Savage Vines are always championing both organic and biodynamic viticulture. It is wine that’s better for us and the planet. When discussing the topic of wine and sustainability, organic and biodynamic practices are going to be crucial.

Organic winemaking removes artificial chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides from the winemaking process. These sprays can deeply effect the surrounding flora and fauna. They can also run off into the neighbouring waterways. By removing these from the winemaking process, you are creating a more natural product. You are also having less of a negative impact on the natural world.

You can look out for the logo below if you’re trying to keep your wine organic. However, you should be aware that becoming organically certified is a long and costly process which small winemakers often cannot afford to do. So, many winemakers will still work the vineyards in line with organic practices, but not have the accreditation. It is always worth visiting the winemakers website, (or asking the retailer such as us), if you want to know more about a winemakers practices.

Organic Logo | Wine and Sustainability
EU Organic Logo

Biodynamic winemaking follows similar themes to organic winemaking. Again, they will avoid the use of these artificial chemicals, but they go one step further. Biodynamic farming is a holistic approach to farming. They look at things like the cycle of the moon to know the optimum time to tend to and harvest the grapes. They also promote biodiversity. Biodynamic vineyards will often keep goats, sheep, bees or other such live creatures. They are trying to create an ecosystem that supports itself. Sheep will do their business which fertilises the plants and vines, which the bees can then pollinate. They believe that the wine benefits from being in an environment that thrives on all fronts.

Once again, you can look for the ‘Demeter’ certification for biodynamic certified wines. Yet, many winemakers would adopt similar practices without acquiring the certification.

Demeter RGB
Demeter Logo For Biodynamic Wines
Vegan Wines

Veganism is always going to be central to debates around sustainability. This is no different when it comes to wine and sustainability. As wine is simply fermented grape juice it may can as a surprise that not all wine is vegan.

In fact, a number of animal byproducts can be used in the production of wine. They include albumin (egg whites), casein (milk protein), isinglass (fish bladder protein), and gelatin (animal protein). These are used to fine and filter wines.

You could argue that these are just animal byproducts, so their use isn’t important. You could also argue that it supports industrialised mass-farming which many see as completely detrimental to the environment.

Whatever your stance is on veganism, consuming and using less animal-based products will be beneficial to the environment as a whole. So, if you’re concerned about the topic of wine and sustainability, then you can look out for the vegan tick of approval.

Innovation

As so often is the case, technological innovation can be seen as a real bright spark in the fight for sustainability. Weather prediction is a key way in which winemakers are looking to preserve resources and tackle the issue of wine and sustainability.

For example, Perlage Winery have installed an advanced PV-sensing system. This predicts weather patterns and means that they can allocate only the absolute minimum amount of resources required for a challenge. This is important in terms of irrigation. If they can predict that the rain is going to come, then they don’t need to waste water in the vineyard.

Perlage Winery Vineyards
Perlage Winery Vineyards

Another source of innovation can be found in the winery, rather than just the vineyards. Many winemakers are installing wind turbines and solar panels with the view of making their businesses completely carbon neutral, (or even carbon negative).

Transportation

This is something that could easily be overlooked when it comes to wine and sustainability. However, the transportation of wine across the globe can be the source of an enormous amount of carbon emissions. So, how can this be improved?

One incredibly simple method which has become increasingly popular is the use of lighter-weight glass bottles. The smaller the amount of weight, the smaller the emissions. If you pick up a bottle and are thinking ‘wow this is light’, now you know why?!

Alternative methods of transport have also become more prevalent, yet many of these are in their infancy. Regardless, if you’re a true oenophile and care about wine and sustainability, there are a some things you should keep an eye out for.

Our personal favourite alternative method of transportation is via sail boat. Historically, this is how wine was transported. Indeed, some think that Bordeaux became so successful due to its access to rivers that spread through France and its proximity to the Atlantic ocean. Well today, winemakers are looking backwards as a means of planning for the future. It is a more costly means of transporting the wine, (which can be reflected in the cost), but we think it is a very thoughtful way of combatting the problems surrounding wine and sustainability.


We hope you’ve enjoyed our look into all things wine and sustainability. If you’re keen to reduce your carbon footprint, but don’t want to give up the vino, then these are all things of which you should be aware!


If you want to treat yourself, or someone else in your life, don’t forget to check out our Monthly Wine Subscription and Gift Wine Subscription products. Each month you’ll receive hand-picked wines from small, independent family winemakers who focus on organicbiodynamic and sustainable viticulture. Learn more here:


If you’d simply just like to learn more about wine from the comfort of your own home, be sure to check out our online blog and sign up to our mailing list. We’re always looking to teach people about different regions, grape varieties and producers. Beyond that, you can expect to find a whole host of playlists, cocktail cards and recipe cards packed full of wine pairing ideas. There might even be some special offers along the way so make sure that you don’t miss out!

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