The SW Summary: On floods in Australia, carbon capture in the vineyard, mandatory ingredient labelling, and more

By Hanna Halmari
Australian floods threaten wine production

South-eastern Australia has seen ongoing floods throughout the year and the wet weather shows no signs of abating. In the drinks business Christian Smith reports on the recent major floods in New South Wales and Victoria and the threat to wine production. Southern Australia’s premier Peter Malinauskas has declared the situation a “major emergency” and the floods will inevitably have a significant impact on the national economy.

The extent of the damage caused to vineyards is not yet clear, but Rutherglen in Victoria is known to be one of the worst hit regions so far. Australian authorities warn that the flooding may continue for months, and whilst it’s too early to determine the exact impact on the 2023 vintage, Smith notes how the “[implications are] stark for the growing season.” Read more here

Context matters for carbon capture

In Good Fruit Grower Kate Golden discusses the learnings from the California Land Stewardship Institute’s carbon-modelling pilot project. The institute is working on developing a climate adaptation certification that is vineyard specific and focused on the outcomes of affordable carbon sequestration and emissions reduction. To help the institute better understand carbon sequestration and accounting in the vineyard, in 2021 twenty vineyards in Sonoma County volunteered to participate in a regenerative agriculture pilot. Some of the key findings include:

  • Growers are already using many climate-friendly practices
  • Soil’s carbon sequestration capability is heavily dependent on the exact composition of the soil 
  • No-till isn’t necessarily always the most efficient route: Alternating cover crops with tillage proved to sequester almost as much carbon as no-till 
  • Natural areas and hedgerows are some of the cheapest ways to sequester carbon 

Read more here.

Climate adaptation in Champagne

Writing for the drinks business, Richard Woodard shares how winemakers in Champagne are adapting to evolving climatic conditions. As the climate gets warmer and drier, grapes are ripening faster. To maintain the “freshness in the grapes and the potential ageing of the wine,” winemakers are picking the grapes earlier, as well as experimenting with various other techniques. These include restricting malolactic fermentation, or the conversion of malic acid to lactic acid leading to a reduction in acidity, as well as adjusting dosage levels. Read more here.

US commits to issue alcohol labelling legislation

Meininger’s Wine Business International reports on how the US may soon be following the EU’s footsteps in requiring nutritional labelling for wine. From December 8, 2023 onwards, all wine sold in the EU will need to include nutritional and ingredient information either directly on the label, or via a QR code. A recent court ruling in the US means similar labelling legislation may be implemented in America too.

According to a recent report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, “the Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has agreed to issue proposed rules requiring standardized alcohol content, calorie, and allergen labeling on all beer, wine and distilled spirits products [and to] begin preliminary rulemaking on mandatory ingredient labeling.” 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.