The SW Summary: On the world’s lightest Champagne bottle, Uruguay’s 2023 harvest, the resilience of Ukraine’s wine industry, and more

By Hanna Halmari
Champagne Telmont completes successful testing of lightweight bottle

In the drinks business Eloise Feilden reports on the world’s lightest Champagne bottle. Weighing 800 grams, the bottle from Champagne Telmont and French glassmaker Verallia is 35 grams lighter than the standard sparkling wine bottle, yet can still withstand the gas pressure. Champagne Telmont has finalised its year-long test phase on 3,000 bottles and will now expand production for a first batch of 30,000 lightweight bottles which will be available to customers as of 2026.

The Champagne house aims to be “Climate Positive by 2030 and Net Positive by 2050.” The lightweight bottle is a significant step in the right direction, as glass bottles account for around 24% of Telmont’s total emissions. The 800 gram bottle “will generate around 4% less CO2 per bottle produced,” and will also require less fuel for transportation. Read more here.

Uruguay’s 2023 harvest: Low yields, high quality

In Decanter Alejandro Iglesias reports on Uruguay’s 2023 harvest, which saw a 23% lower yield than the previous year. The growing season suffered from the country’s worst drought in 50 years and ripening occurred 15 days earlier as a result of the heatwaves. Despite the lower yield, the grape quality has been deemed excellent. Oenologist Ricardo Cabrera, president of the Instituto Nacional de Vitivinicultura, Vinos del Uruguay (INAVI) believes the “quality makes up for the drop in yields,” noting the “good levels of alcohol and aromas”

Irrigation systems are not prevalent in Uruguay. Average rainfall in the country has traditionally been sufficient, and historic wine-producing regions such as Canelones and Montevideo benefit from deep-rooted vines in clay soils that retain humidity. However, as evidenced by the significant drop in yields this harvest, irrigation is no longer a rare necessity. Growers throughout the country need to adapt to the hotter, drier climate. Read more here.

Napa’s first zero-emission vineyard strongly opposed by locals

In The San Francisco Chronicle Jess Lander discusses the opposition to Napa’s first zero-emission vineyard, Le Colline. Following a nine-year proposal process, the vineyard development has now received tentative approval from Napa County. However, the project faces fierce local opposition and must now go through a long appeals process.

Proponents of the vineyard believe it “could set a precedent in Wine Country, inspiring future vineyard developments to follow its lead.”  Le Colline plans to operate at net-zero emissions, to incorporate reforestation initiatives. and to undertake extensive forest management and fire-mitigation work. However, critics point out that the majority of wine’s carbon footprint originates from the supply chain, not the vineyard. Furthermore, local opponents argue that “further vineyard and winery development is a threat to wildlife, watersheds and surrounding communities.” Read more here.

Ukraine’s resilient wine industry

In Wine Enthusiast Evan Rail takes a look at the current state of the Ukrainian wine industry. In the 2010s, Ukraine experienced a wine renaissance as wineries shifted from the industrial post-Soviet production focused on high volumes,to embracing quality. Now, well over a year into Russia’s invasion, many wineries “have been bombed into wreckage, century-old cellars have been looted and prominent winemakers have been killed.”

Rail also reports on the vines. Land mines can now be found across many vineyards, left by retreating Russian forces. These vineyards will remain fatally dangerous until they are fully de-mined, “a process that could last a decade or more once the war ends.”

However, Svetlana Tsybak, general manager of Beykush Winery and the head of the Ukrainian Association of Craft Winemakers, shares a sense of optimism. She notes the country’s “renewed sense of solidarity” and the perseverance of the industry to repair damaged wineries and vineyards. She urges wine lovers to try Ukrainian wines and spread the word: “We want to tell everyone that Ukrainian wines are very good, that we produce high quality wines,” she says. “And that we’re still alive.”

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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.