As the world’s fourth largest exporter of wine, Chile is an important player in the industry. Perceived to be ideal for grape growing, Chile nonetheless has specific challenges in the form of water scarcity, deforestation and social inequities in particular. These, along with optimising energy efficiency, are core areas of focus. Concha y Toro with almost 10,000ha throughout Chile is the country’s largest vineyard owner, and arguably one of the world’s leaders in the field when it comes to adopting more sustainable working practices.
A bit like Penfolds in Australia, Concha y Toro manage to carry off that rare skill of producing both highly sought-after bottles in limited quantities and good-quality wines in volume under internationally recognizable brand names. Despite their size, they are also capable of putting together small-batch parcels of wine exclusively for Society members. When it comes to sustainability, its credentials are impressive here too (even their sustainability report is award winning!).
As a big organisation they are able to invest in research and development and effect meaningful change across their business in a carefully planned way. The fact that they are also big landowners means that the changes they have made scale up to being truly significant. They have already managed to reach some important milestones and in April 2021, after an evaluation process that lasted two years, they also achieved B Corp certification – the largest winery to join this global movement.
Water, energy and emissions
Very little precipitation over the past couple of years makes water conservation essential, not just for business but for the survival of communities in certain areas. Concha y Toro have invested heavily in technology to precisely predict a vineyard’s needs, rolling out a ‘smart’ drip-irrigation system across all its vineyards, achieving a 48% reduction in their water use compared to the industry average.
Concha y Toro was the first wine company globally to commit to net zero emissions by 2050, and has set itself stretching interim targets to ensure it stays on track to meet the end objective. Solar panels are installed throughout their vineyards and all facilities in Chile are powered by renewable energy. Many of their wines are big, global brands and switching to bulk shipping and using lighter-weight bottles made from recycled glass where they can has paid dividends.
Biodiversity and people
In order to protect the rich biodiversity of wildlife and fauna on their estates, including 4,200ha of native woodland (home to many threatened species and important carbon sinks), Concha y Toro have mapped and carried out inventories of all their land. They became the first winery in the world to register its forests under FSC certification and play a leading role in its protection.
The company believes in building strong relationships with its employees, partners and suppliers and the communities in which it operates, with staff taking part in volunteering programmes, grape growers receiving technical advice, and local communities getting both educational scholarships and investment to improve living standards.
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