The SW Summary: On chronoculture, ‘vinfluencers’, purple wine, The Future of Wine Americas 2021, unions and labor rights, organics in the EU, and more

By Hanna Halmari
Chronoculture for more sustainable agricultural systems 

In Science, Steed et al. discuss the possibilities of “chronoculture”, or using a plant’s circadian rhythm to improve agricultural productivity. The matching of a plant’s internal clock to its external environment can result in increased crop yields and reduced inputs. The research suggests potential new agronomic approaches such as “modifying circadian rhythms, engineering the timing of transgene expression, and applying agricultural treatments at the most effective time of day.”

Natural wine’s exclusionary nature

The term ‘natural wine’ has no uniform definition, but some vintners strictly believe it should adhere to “zero-zero” standards, meaning that nothing has been added or removed from the wine. Writing for Wine Enthusiast, Margot Mazur highlights the dangers of such a dogmatic approach. She describes how varying growing climates and access to resources prevent many winemakers from immediately committing to such rigid standards. Read more about the exclusionary nature of the term here.

The rise of the ‘vinfluencer’

In The San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley discusses the divided opinion on wine influencers. An increasing number of wine brands are turning to influencer marketing to drive online sales, as well as to reach their younger Millennial consumers. Whilst some critics have expressed their point-blank (and sexist) contempt for ‘vinfluencers,’ Mobley highlights the research that indicates “that more wineries would be wise to get in the [influencer marketing] game.”

Purple wine

Writing for Decanter, Richard Woodard reports on how the creators of the world’s first ‘purple wine’ have now expanded their range to include a dry sparkling wine and Shiraz. Australian-based wine company Masstengo created Purple Reign, a Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc blend infused with organic botanicals, which give it its vibrant and unique purple colour and minimise the use of sulphites.

The Future of Wine Americas is coming up soon (1-3 June)

Sustainable Wine’s upcoming Future of Wine Americas 2021 virtual conference is taking place on 1-3 June. Join us for a focused one-day workshop followed by two conference days with some of the leading wine producers, distributors, importers, retailers and more. You’ll have the chance to hear from 60+ expert speakers from across the USA, South America and Canada as we discuss the key challenges, opportunity, innovation and practical implementation of sustainability in the wine industry. Attendance is free, but may be limited to the first 1000 sign ups, so make sure to register here now to secure your place.

On unions and labor rights 

In Wine Enthusiast, Jahdé Marley dives into the topic of unions, labor rights and winery workers. Across all states except for California, agricultural workers cannot unionize unless approved by employers. Marley explores whether unions are “currently necessary for farm workers,” if union policies are sustainable for small-scale agrarian businesses, and whether there are “other, more effective ways to ensure the safety and security of those at the heart of the $68 billion U.S. wine business.” Read more here.

The EU’s Organic Action Plan

The EU’s recently launched Organic Action Plan set out the ambitious goal to increase organic farming in Europe from 8% to 25% of all farmland by 2030. Key components of the plan include  building capacities for organic farming; supporting small and medium sized farms; increasing recognition for organic products; seeking “pathways to phase out or replace contentious inputs in organic farming, such as copper”; and many more. In this recent podcast from the Food for Europe mini-series on organics, experts discuss the merits and shortfalls of the plan and call out key focus areas, such as boosting consumer demand for organic products, addressing soil health, and more. 

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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.