The SW Summary: On adapting to climate change, the realities of going organic, an equitable and inclusive wine industry, and more

By Hanna Halmari
How Italian winemakers are combatting the effects of climate change

According to recent data presented by the International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV) at COP26, “extreme weather events and rising temperatures caused production in the Italian wine industry to drop by 9 percent [in 2021].” Writing for VinePair Rebecca Ann Hughes explores the creative ways in which Italian winemakers are responding to the devastating impacts of climate change in the vineyard. Adaptation practices include techniques to slow down photosynthesis, the return to late-ripening native varieties, the installation of heated pipes to cope with unexpected frosts, and more. Read the article here.

Alberto Antonini on the realities of going organic

In the drinks business Patrick Schmitt reports on an exclusive interview with top wine consultant Alberto Antonini, in which he shares the hard-hitting realities of moving to organic viticulture. According to Antonini, “organics teaches you where you should and shouldn’t grow grapes.” If you can’t manage your vineyard without synthetic inputs, “then you should move to a different land use,” he argues. Antonini also emphasizes the importance of regenerative viticulture and provides an outline for the “principles for regenerating” vineyard soils, with a focus on aerating the ground. Read more here on Antonini’s views on organics and his suggested vineyard practices.

Towards an equitable, diverse, and inclusive wine industry: “Taking action takes effort”

Almost two years ago the wine industry fell under intense scrutiny for its lack of representation of marginalized groups. Since then, we’ve seen a wave of diversity and inclusivity pledges and commitments. Writing for Wine Enthusiast, Stacy Briscoe explores whether the industry has actually made any significant changes. She discusses the progress made in education, the increase in “nonprofit, independent organizations that promote awareness for and support to those who need [a] help-up [in the industry], and the importance of following through with diversity efforts.

However, the industry still has a long way to go “in terms of creating a truly diverse, equitable and inclusive environment.” Briscoe notes how collective action ultimately relies on “individual, everyday choices.” She quotes Miguel de Leon, wine director of Pinch Chinese, who urges those in the industry to continue to take action: “Taking action takes effort. It’s not always easy. But if we don’t do anything we continue to get stuck in cycles that only make us suffer. Do, do again, do more.” Read more here.

The SVB State of the Wine Industry Report 2022

Silicon Valley Bank recently published its State of the Wine Industry Report 2022, written by Rob McMillan, EVP and Founder at Silicon Valley Bank Wine Division. The report assesses the current conditions of the wine industry and provides forecasts for the upcoming year. A couple of key predictions include:

  • “Supply chain issues will gradually ease through the year but will likely have an impact on individual wineries in their own production capacities. 
  • The challenge of recruiting younger, health-conscious, multicultural consumers into the wine category, combined with the aging of the older core wine consumer, remains.
  • The labor supply is limited, and the price for labor is increasing. In the vineyard, we need better immigration laws that will allow workers from other countries to come to the US to work.
  • With increasing climate impacts from drought, fire, low soil moisture and record low reservoir levels, there will be even more pressure for agriculture and residential users to share limited water. “

Read the full report here.

Sustainable wine from Washington

As reported by Emry Dinman in The Everett Herald, a new sustainable wine certification will soon be available in Washington, “[formalizing] longstanding sustainability practices in the state.” The Sustainable WA label is the result of a collaboration between the Washington Winegrowers Association, Washington Wine Industry Foundation and the Washington State Wine Commission. In order to achieve the Sustainable WA label, grape growers will need to meet certain performance requirements “in nine different areas, including water management, pest management and…labor practices.” Whilst the certification is currently only available to grape growers, wineries using the certified grapes will be able to use the Sustainable WA logo on their bottles. Read more here.

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About the author

Hanna Halmari

Hanna Halmari is the editor at Sustainable Wine and the head of conferences at Innovation Forum. Hanna specialises in sustainability research and events across various industries. She holds an MSc in international development from Kings’s College London, where she developed a strong interest in political economy and post-communist transformation. Hanna speaks Finnish, Bulgarian and English. In her spare time she is a dedicated Radio Lollipop volunteer at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, enjoys travelling, and tasting new wines.