Wines new conscience as winery goes green

PUBLISHED: 11:37 01 October 2010

Eco wine

Eco wine

Archant

Grapevine: There’s a new development rolling out in wineries across the world, discovers Liz Sagues

Wine websites have all sorts of features, but it’s not often that there are butterflies fluttering over them. But go to www.eightyacres.com.au and little blue ones flitter back and forth through the forest once the trees have grown. Wine may have long been red, white and pink, but it’s also becoming green.

Those butterflies, and a pair of dragonflies, are a happy touch as Wakefield, in South Australia’s Clare Valley, explains how its Eighty Acres wines became the first in the world to be 100 percent carbon neutral. The initiative, managing director Mitchell Taylor told me, isn’t something as ephemeral as blue butterflies but a “cradle to grave concept”.

The website gives a lot more detail, but Taylor runs through how beyond reducing its own impact on atmospheric carbon, plus using the latest lighter glass bottles and encouraging recycling, the winery takes double offset action for the remaining CO2 it generates. First it buys into an Australian government-verified emission reduction unit scheme – specifically, a facility which composts household waste rather than letting it go to landfill – and then also plants a tree for every tonne of reduction units bought.

Eighty Acres, he adds, is the beginning. The green principles are likely to be rolled out over the rest of the Wakefield estate as time progresses.

For the moment, there are three carbon neutral wines available here: chardonnay/viognier 2007, shiraz/viognier 2006 and cabernet/shiraz/merlot 2006, £9.85 each from www.slurp.co.uk. I’ve tasted the shiraz/viognier, though the 2007 vintage, and it’s an attractive wine, dark, perfumed, with pure ripe black fruit carrying a touch of spice and an aromatic lift to the finish from the splash of viognier.

Cross the globe to Europe, and meet the Torres family, whose spectacular winery inland from Barcelona glows as a green beacon – latest recognition has been the accolade of international green company of the year in the 2010 Drinks Business Awards. It’s a textbook example of how a very large-scale operation can have an effective environmental conscience while holding its own in the competitive retail world – you can find Torres wines, Vina Sol and Sangre de Toro especially, in most high streets.

The list of actions ranges from electric delivery vans to donations of five million euros to research projects aimed at reducing atmospheric CO2 levels; from a commitment to cut the winery’s own CO2 output by 30 percent by 2020 to the installation of 12,000 square metres of photovoltaic panels; from waste water recycling to generating energy from the six million kilo rubbish-pile of grape must and stalks it accumulates each year. Long-term, new vineyards are planned in higher locations as global warming advances, and there are trials with drought-resistant vine rootstocks.

There are no butterflies on the Torres website (www.torres.es), though if you look very carefully indeed you might spot some of the bugs used in biological alternatives to chemical vine pest control. But there are some very pretty flowers on the label of the newest bottle to hit UK shop shelves: Floralis Moscatel Oro (Majestic, £9.32 or £7 when you buy two), a flowery-scented sweet wine. To continue the natural theme, drink it with fruit desserts.

Liz Sagues


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