The SW Summary: On certifications and consumer confusion, Systembolaget’s sustainability progress, recycled wastewater pipelines, and more

By Hanna Halmari
Consumer confusion: Understanding sustainability certifications

Writing for The Wine Industry Advisor, Deborah Parker Wong takes a critical look at the expanding landscape of wine certifications. Consumers want an easy way to identify sustainable wine and sustainability certifications are often hailed as the most effective means to do so. However, Wong questions whether this is really always the case, noting that bar a few of the industry’s most transparent certifications, none prohibit the use of synthetic herbicides. She observes how many wineries “pick and choose initiatives that are easiest for them to adopt and implement…and then communicate their efforts using a blanket approach that leads consumers to believe those sustainability efforts extend to their farming practices.” Read more here on the stark gap in consumers’ understanding “about the complex tradeoffs associated with claims of sustainability.”

Systembolaget publishes 2021 Responsibility Report

Systembolaget, Sweden’s government-owned chain of liquor stores, recently published its Responsibility Report 2021. Present in every municipality in Sweden, Systembolaget has ambitious sustainability targets set for 2030 in areas such as climate impact, biodiversity, human rights, and more. Ann Carlsson Meyer, CEO, highlights three sustainability initiatives Systembolaget from 2021:

  1. “We have encouraged our customers to choose climate-smarter packaging – through broad communication efforts, personal in-store encounters with customers and the products we offer. 
  2. We have launched new products in different price ranges and from different countries in more climate-smart packaging materials such as cardboard, PET and aluminium cans.
  3. We have collaborated with Oxfam to produce the report “The workers behind Sweden’s Italian wine” which analyses the working conditions of workers in the Italian wine industry.”

Read the full report here to find out more about Systembolaget’s targets and progress.

Wastewater that isn’t going to ‘waste’: California wineries invest in pipelines to recycle sewage water

In The San Francisco Chronicle Esther Mobley reports on the California wineries building pipelines to recycle wastewater from cities for vine irrigation. As drought conditions worsen, “farmers and local governments are trying to get creative with their water sourcing.” The pipelines are expensive to build, but they prove a far cheaper option to trucking in water. Mobley notes how Justin Seidenfeld, owner of Parliament Hills Vineyard in Petaluma, “will get about 30 acre-feet of water through the [new] pipeline for one-third of what it cost him to get 5 acre-feet of water trucked last year.” The sewage water goes through various clean-up techniques, including filtration and UV-light exposure. Whilst the recycled water isn’t potable, it’s ideally suited for “irrigation, landscaping and other industrial purposes.” Read more here

Chile’s 2022 harvest report: Good results despite challenging climate conditions

Chile’s historically severe drought has affected wine-growers throughout the country. Writing for Decanter Alejandro Iglesias discusses the impacts on this year’s harvest for Chile’s diverse wine producing valleys. According to Francisco Baettig, head winemaker at Errazuriz, “this [year’s] harvest was among the five driest recorded in the past 100 years.” Despite the challenging conditions, most winemakers are “pleased with the quality of the grapes” picked. In Itata, a region significantly affected by the drought, wine-growers had to work extremely hard. Leading winemaker in the region Leo Erazo attributes the good results to the “work [they’ve] been doing in regenerative agriculture since 2016.” 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.