The SW Summary: On sustainable development in the Médoc, a candid take on carbon farming, progress in wine packaging, and more

By Hanna Halmari
Sustainable development in the Médoc 

In Drinks Retailing Rachel Badham reports on the new sustainability roadmap published by Alliance des Crus Bourgeois du Médoc. Made of up 250 winegrowers in the region, the Alliance will “create an environmental criteria for its members” and will provide members with “regular training sessions to ‘improve their technical, technological, and marketing skills.’” President of the Alliance Franck Bijon shares how this has largely been driven by “consumer demand and also the desire of [their] members for more sustainable winegrowing.” Read more here.

A candid take on carbon farming

In Anthropocene Mark Harris delivers a realistic overview on the current state of carbon farming and its potential. Carbon farming is widely heralded as a key solution to the climate crisis. Techniques such as no-tillage, adding compost or biochar, crop selection and genetic modifications “could increase yields [and] store carbon,” all financed through the sale of carbon offsets.

However, as Harris points out, there is no such thing as a silver bullet. He highlights recent research demonstrating that farms store less carbon than natural areas and that soil is less of a carbon vault than scientists traditionally thought. Harris also discusses the complexity of tracking carbon storage and the difficulties of scaling up regenerative agriculture practices. Furthermore, given the ongoing war in Ukraine and global food insecurity, farmers are likely to “forget about accounting for carbon and focus on delivering calories.”

Whilst carbon farming certainly has great potential, the article reminds us to remain realistic and brings the “hype behind carbon farming [back] down to earth.” Read more here.

Airbnb launches ‘vineyard’ category

Writing for the drinks business, Sarah Neish discusses Airbnb’s newly launched ‘vineyard’ category. Wine tourism is clearly “alive and well,” having brought in almost £35 million in the UK alone on the holiday booking app in 2021. The new ‘vineyard’ listing category lists over 120,000 wine-focused stays and also offers a “series of vineyard stay ‘wishlists’ in the UK” in partnership with Wine GB. Vineyard stays in Croatia, Portugal, Provence and Argentina are also available for booking via Airbnb.

Progress in wine packaging

In Packaging Europe Stephane Triquet evaluates the changing horizon in the wine packaging sector. Lighter glass bottles and alternative packaging formats such as canned or bag-in-the-box wines are on the rise as companies race to meet their net-zero targets and respond to consumer demands. Triquet notes how these are important developments as “up to half of a wine’s carbon footprint comes from the bottle.”

Wine sealing is another evolving area. As producers continue to grapple with the issue of cork taint – estimated to ruin one billion bottles of wine each year – many are turning to alternative closures such as screwcaps. Read more here.

The SWR Conference: An insightful two days of discussion and debate

Last week the Sustainable Wine Roundtable (SWR) held its first annual conference. The two-day online event brought together experts from across and outside the wine industry to discuss the critical sustainability challenges facing the sector. Attendees from around the globe joined the event and engaged with our expert speakers in discussions on how sustainability will transform wine.

Toby Webb, founder of Sustainable Wine and co-founder and director of SWR, commented: 

“This was the fourth conference we’ve run since 2019 and the first as the Sustainable Wine Roundtable. It was very clear from the more than 250 attendees that there’s an urgent and growing need for effective collaboration mechanisms to enable wine sustainability across the value chain. We believe the SWR has the potential to play this role, and has already begun doing so. We look forward to the journey and our members are already working with us to drive efficiencies and create innovations to meet the challenges of today and of the future.”

In case you missed the event or want to re-listen to any of the discussions, all of the session recordings will soon be available here on the Sustainable Wine website and podcast. To learn more about the SWR and how you can get involved, click 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.