How Big Wine Brands are Going Sustainable

Ok so Earth day is over but shouldn’t every day be Earth Day? Some people like to plant trees, or take their bike to work. Others plant a garden or flowers. I’m always thinking of the Earth and how I can help conserve and improve. But that isn’t what this article is about.

Earth Day is an important day to raise our environmental awareness, but many people would like to see these green practices to have more effect year round. That is why we should try to incorporate green thinking into our daily living.

One way this can be done is in wines. Think about it: Each time you open another bottle of wine, you should think about all of the practices that caused that bottle of wine to be on your dinner table. In the wine industry, there are many factors in the winemaking process that have important environmental considerations. This is the reason that many winemakers today are embracing the opportunity to use eco-friendly practices in their business.

For example, grape growers can select organic practices that limit the amount of chemical treatments on crops. Regarding tourism, wineries can select more sustainable building practices to contain their operational facilities and their manufacturing areas. And in the area of packaging, wineries can use more recycled products for shipping boxes, and even for the wine bottles.

There are many winemakers that are making the shift to more green-friendly practices, which is helping to reduce environmental effects on the Earth.

Big Brands Making Big Changes

Many may think that smaller wineries might be the ones to increase the use of environmentally-friendly practices, and many do. But the efforts by the larger wineries – whose land for grape growing can be in the thousands of acres – are more likely to have a bigger impact on the planet.

In Santa Rosa, California, Jackson Family Wines grows on more than 10,000 acres. Their efforts include a system to recycle water used in barrel washing, which conserves more than 2 million gallons of water each year. This winery also recommissions compressed air systems, which is a huge energy cost at many wineries. Jackson also has an LEED Gold certification of one warehouse, as well as their tasting room (there are many other sustainability certifications for wineries, such as the SIP Certification).

In Italy, being certified as an organic winery takers several years, Marchesi de Frescobaldi tries to balance the impact of organic management of their vineyards with allowances for wear and tear on essential equipment. This Tuscan wine producer turns out 10 million cases of wine each year using green pest control treatments. However this means that these pesticides have to be applied twice as often as regular pesticides. This increases consumption of fuel and wear and tear on equipment.

Solar Power in the Spotlight

Vines get most of their nutrients from deep in the soil, but many wineries are looking towards the sky for some of their energy needs – that is, solar power. There is a growing list of US wine producers, many in CA, who use solar panels to meet part of their energy needs. You should be aware if your favorite winery makes the list or not. Big Napa producers, such as Shafer and Miner Family Winery, use only solar power. Estancia winery, based in Monterey, installed more than 4000 solar panels. This generates about 75%

More Green Winery Practices – Packaging

Wineries are going green in areas besides operations and production. Some wineries also are focusing on the bottle itself. For instance, Dreaming Tree winery uses natural cork that is grown in sustainable ways. The labels are made with recycled paper, and the bottles are made with natural gas, which burns cleaner than other fossil fuels.

At PaperBoy Wine, they use a wine bottle that is actually made from cardboard. It is made from recycled paper that has been compressed. It is 80% lighter than a regular glass bottle and reduces the carbon footprint of bottle production by 67%.

Sustainable Winery Practices – a List

There are many small ways that wineries are making their operations more sustainable. For example:

  • Some California wineries have retrofitted their lighting. Switching to more energy efficient T5 light fixtures, as well as motion sensor units can lead to better visibility and a reduction of energy use by 50%.

  • Maintenance crews use electric carts rather than cars or trucks for many of the trips on winery property.

  • Refrigeration systems are used to cool tanks of wine, and are computerized to watch for peaks and lows, and they adjust automatically.

  • Other wineries use soil conservation by using the most effective systems for runoff management and erosion control. They also compost with grape pumice to fertilize the soil.

By using sustainable wine producing practices, these wineries are really making a positive impact on the environment – year round.