The SW Summary: Wine brands aiming for carbon neutrality, action to improve diversity in the wine industry, French restrictions on glyphosate, Covid-19 tests for grape pickers in Spain, Beaujolais 2020 vintage, and biodynamic vineyards in Languedoc

By Hanna Halmari

Wine brands aiming for carbon neutrality

A few weeks ago Accolade Wines Europe’s core portfolio achieved carbon neutrality and received its certification from the Carbon Trust. Reporting for Harpers, Jo Gilbert shares how the company “sells over 150 million bottles of wine annually”, including brands such as “Hardys, Mudhouse, Jam Shed, Banrock Station, Echo Falls and Kumala.” The certification was rewarded as a result of Accolade’s significant efforts to reduce its carbon footprint in Europe, including initiatives such as introducing “lighter weight bottles…this year and more recyclable packaging for its wine on tap formats.” 

Gilbert quotes Accolade Wines’ managing director for Europe, Caroline Thompson-Hill, who says, “We know that there is demand from shoppers for greener products, with 62% of consumers saying they want to buy from sustainable brands, and the wine category is no different. Companies have to act on their carbon footprint for the sake of the planet and we want Accolade Wines Europe to set a positive example that we hope the rest of the industry follow.”

Following suit is Treasury Wine Estates owned Australian wine range Lindeman’s. Writing for Business Green, Cecilia Keating reports how Lindeman’s is “on track to clinch carbon neutrality in Europe” by the end of the year. Working closely with the Carbon Trust, Treasury Wine Estates has measured Lindeman’s carbon footprint across its value chain and has rolled out a series of carbon-reducing measures. The Lindeman’s range in Europe is now “in line with the internationally recognised PAS 2050 standard” and is expected to be certified carbon neutral by the end of the year.

These measures include the introduction of lighter bottles, increased recyclability of packaging, improved “efficiency of refrigeration systems,” and the installation of “solar power at some of its sites.” Keating shares how Treasury Wine Estates has committed to offsetting “any remaining emissions” with carbon credits from Carbon Footprint Limited. These will go towards supporting “wind farms in India, solar power installations in the Philippines, and reforestation projects in the Amazon Rainforest and the UK.”

This is part of Treasury Wine Estates’ wider sustainability initiatives, which include strict packaging guidelines to ensure the company achieves “100 per cent recyclable, reusable and compostable packaging by the end of 2022 and…that all packaging comprises at least 50 per cent recycled content by 2025.”

Action to improve diversity in the drinks industry

As we know, diversity is a major issue in the wine industry. Highlighting this issue is Edith Hancock in her recent article for the drinks business. Hancock shares how whilst POC “[account] for more than 13% of the US population…they make up only 2% of the drinks industry.”She  emphasizes how the cost of education is a major deterrent. Given the results of a recent study this summer that showed that the “wealth gap between black and white households is as wide as it was in the 1960s…it is [no surprise] that the drinks trade lacks diversity.”

Hancock’s article takes a look at the recently launched advocacy groups and scholarship programmes aiming to improve diversity and inclusion in the drinks industry, examining the beer, wine and spirits sectors. We’ve listed her findings for the wine industry below, but see the full list here for all categories. 

UK retailer Majestic will fund the WSET Level 2 for up to “50 candidates from BAME or diverse backgrounds…with no obligation to join the business on completion.” Find out more here.

Online retailer Wine Access has partnered with Josh Hart, NBA player and wine lover, and the Napa Valley Wine Academy, to provide educational opportunities to “100 members of the BIPOC community who currently work in or aspire to pursue a career in the wine industry.” Find out more here.

“Napa Valley Vintners has pledged over US$1 million for new scholarship and mentoring programmes that will increase the diversity, inclusiveness and growth opportunities in the wine industry.” 

Last month, Mags Jajno of MJ Wine Cellars and Jancis Robinson MW, launched a new website, BAME Wine Professionals. Responding to the “significant lack of diversity and problems with inclusivity across the industry,” the website aims to “provide more exposure to black and minority ethnic people working in the wine trade.” Find out more here.

France’s new restrictions on glyphosate

France’s Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) has recently issued new restrictions on the agricultural use of the weedkiller glyphosate. Gus Trompiz, writing for Reuters, shares how the newly introduced restrictions are “part of a push by the French government to phase out glyphosate by 2021.”

The new restrictions ban the use of glyphosate “in alleys between vines and fruit trees, or in crop fields that are ploughed.” The weedkiller will still, however, be allowed for use “under vines and trees where mechanical weeding was impractical or costly.” It will also still be permitted for use on crop farms that “avoid ploughing to preserve soil fertility.” 

Overall, the new measures reduce the total amount of “glyphosate authorized per year…by 60% for orchards and crop fields, and 80% for vineyards,” the article reports. Trompiz notes how “due to a lack of non-chemical alternatives in some areas,” ANSES did not opt for a full ban on glyphosate. The new regulations “are to apply within six months for glyphosate products re-approved by ANSES.”

Read more here.

No PCR, no harvest

Writing for Reuters, Vincent West describes the measures in place to protect the grape harvest  in Alava, the Rioja-producing region in the Basque Country. Suffering from a second wave of the Covid-19 virus, Spain currently has the  “highest infection rate in Western Europe.”

The agricultural sector was hit hard during the summer. Despite a decrease in Covid-19 cases among agricultural workers since then, the sector still “[accounts] for 9.9% of total.” and As such, “authorities are keen to avoid a repetition as the grape harvesting season gets underway.”  

West reports how prior to starting work, all wine workers must take a PCR test for coronavirus carried out by the health department. The 2020 harvest, named “the ‘harvest of the masks’” will be carried out by grape pickers who have been supplied with “their own equipment, including baskets and scissors…to avoid infections.” 

Read more here.

Predictions for Beaujolais 2020 vintage

In his article for the drinks business, Rupert Millar reports on the predictions for the 2020 vintage in Beaujolais. The article quotes president of Inter Beaujolais, Dominique Piron, who believes that despite “experiencing an atypical year in every way…we seem to be headed towards a great vintage in Beaujolais.”

The article comments how the region experienced challenging weather conditions this year, beginning with a mild winter, which “contributed to an early bud burst in March.” The months that followed were “warm and dry,” until June brought “rain and colder days,” which “quickly morphed into ‘scorching hot’ days.” The dry climates of July and August led to “drought or near-drought conditions” in the region.

As grapes began to ripen around mid-July and harvesting began on 20 August, this year records the second earliest harvest since 2003. Although the weather conditions posed certain challenges, also resulted in “little disease pressure” and generally high levels of crop quality and health, Millar reports.

The article also quotes director of SICAREX Beaujolais, the Beaujolais Institute of oenological and viticulture research, Bertrand Châtelet, who says: “The grapes picked had reached nice phenolic ripeness, which can be seen in the vats with nice structure and dark colours for the Gamay…[This] ripeness was excellent for vinifying elegant, round rosés.” Piron is quoted as pointing out that this highlights how “once again, Gamay has shown its ability to adapt to climate variations.”

As for Chardonnay, Châtelet notes how “growers had to bring into play their know-how and high precision to harvest the grapes at an optimal balance and preserve their freshness. The alcoholic fermentations are now ending and the malolactic ones beginning.”

Read more here.

“Biodynamics changed my life

So says Languedoc winemaker Gérard Bertrand in Lucy Shaw’s article for the drinks business. Biodynamic farming is based on “a philosophy about looking for balance and harmony between humans and nature.” Shaw quotes Bertrand who shares how “working with biodynamic practices leads to deeper roots, healthier leaves, and more balance, minerality, aromatic complexity, freshness, harmony and energy in the wines.” 

Out of Betrand’s 16 estates, 60% are Demeter certified biodynamic  and the other 40% “are in the conversion process.” The article reports how since converting to biodynamic farming four years ago, the acidity levels in Bertrand’s wines have jumped up by 50%. Some even boast levels of acidity higher “than you’d sometimes find in Burgundy.”

Shaw notes how, having eliminated the use of chemicals, Bertrand relies on using various plants to care for the vines. These include: “nettles to reduce hydric stress; yarrow to cool the vines; oak bark to strengthen grape skins; dandelion to protect against fungi; and horsetail to protect against mildew.” Furthermore, to reduce their carbon footprint, Bertrand shares how they “only work with mules and horses in some of [their] vineyards.”

Read more here.

Readers are welcome to join, at no cost (yes it is free to attend) our Future of Wine Forum 2020 on November 26 and 27 2020. Sign up at and hear from and ask questions to more than 50 speakers, including CEOs of some of the world’s biggest wine companies, and some of the smaller sustainable vineyard firms too.

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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.