Much has been written about the impacts of climate change on winemaking. While not all regions are impacted equally, as a general trend, growers are experiencing differing degrees of warmer winters, earlier bud bursts, later and more unpredictable frosts, extreme weather events such as flooding and droughts.
It’s something our buyers hear about with increasing regularity from an increasing number of growers, one of whom only recently said of current weather patterns, ‘the only consistency seems to be inconsistency’.
This is why we at The Wine Society want to do three things:
- Reduce our own emissions as quickly as possible
- Help suppliers become more resilient and adapt to their changing climates
- Invest in ways to sequester carbon – that is, to quite literally suck it out of the atmosphere!
None of these actions are new; we just want to play our part and help accelerate things where we can.
There are already some great examples to learn from and build on. Camel Valley in the heart of Cornwall, who make one of England’s finest rosé sparklers, have not only reduced their emissions from fuel use and farming inputs, but have also gone a step further and achieved carbon negative certification. This means their vineyard removes more carbon from the atmosphere than it emits. This is achieved using mixed farming and vineyard practices to sequester carbon through perennial crops, hedgerows, permanent wetlands, woodlands and uncultivated field margins.
But it’s not just vineyards who are reducing their emissions. Winemaking can be power and water heavy. Energy-guzzling temperature controls are often required to manage fermentation and keep wines at a constant temperature so it doesn’t spoil. Jackson Family Wines in California are tackling this through the use of solar panels, which produce around 30% of their power needs.
Our suppliers are also finding new ways to adapt to climate change through clever use of regenerative farming techniques. Fellow California producer Tablas Creek, recently the first vineyard in the US to be certified as Organic Regenerative, wean their vines off irrigation. This encourages the vines to grow deeper roots to find water so they are better able to survive and perform in times of drought – and, according to them, pull the maximum character and sense of place out of their environment.
These are just some of the real-life examples already under way by some of the amazing suppliers with whom we work, and we want to invest more in helping to expand and accelerate initiatives like this across our supply base.
We will do this in several ways: firstly by setting up mechanisms such as a knowledge hub and supplier forum for growers and producers to share their successes and learn from each other.
We’ll also be providing funds and other support for suppliers to achieve sustainability certifications, investing in ‘insetting’ initiatives where we fund biodiversity projects in vineyards to sequester carbon and conducting research to test, develop and share new, innovative regenerative viticulture techniques.
Tackling climate change requires multiple solutions but by working together with our innovative suppliers, we believe we can make a difference.
For more information, view our sustainability section