Few economic sectors see the effects of global warming as clearly as winemakers, for whom the words "weather" and "vintage" are synonymous. In Bordeaux, decades of records show that the harvests are occurring earlier and the wines tend to be less acidic and higher in alcohol. While these changes are not entirely linked to climate change — technical improvements and new vineyard management regimes have made it easier to grow ripe healthy grapes — the Bordelaise know it is a fact of life.
Aware that wine regions must implement strategies to preserve vineyards for generations to come, in 2008 the Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux (CIVB) commissioned a study to measure the Bordeaux wine industry’s greenhouse gas emissions. The study pointed to incoming goods, particularly glass bottles, as being the leading contributor to the region’s carbon footprint, followed by wine transport and energy use in the vineyard and cellar.
The CIVB responded to the study by launching The Bordeaux Wine 2020 Climate Plan with the goal of reducing the region’s total emissions by 20 percent by the end of the decade, while increasing its energy and water conservation 20 percent during the same period. For wineries seeking to reduce greenhouse emissions, here are a few lessons from the Bordeaux study worth considering:
Use Lighter Bottles: Move to bottles that retain the same physical properties and appearance as conventional bottles, but are lighter and made with fewer materials.
Collect Empty Packaging: In 2012, Bordeaux was able to collect and recycled 17.5 tons of empty packaging, which was used to produce alternative energy for cement manufacturing.
Study and Alter Wine Shipment Methodologies: Bordeaux plans to increase its use of maritime shipping, which generates 5.5 percent less CO2 than ground transport.
Consider Groups and Support Networks: Collective efforts allow winemakers to share both the startup costs linked to setting up an environmental protection process and strategies for continued improvements.