Can the fine wine industry be sustainable?
It is with great interest that we have watched the wine industry begin to explore “green” and “sustainable” practices. WineEnabler.com applauds and supports these efforts. In the coming weeks and months, we will participate in the discussion with the wine community on these topics.
We think it is important to have a clear understanding of the problems we face as we start to propose solutions. There have been some excellent first steps to define the scope of the problem.
For example, Dr. Vino, and Treehugger.com have both been talking about the carbon footprint of wine and efforts to reduce it. Others like Parducci.com and OregonWine.org are talking about sustainable wine production. And Alice Feiring has been discussing the effects of global warming and climate change on wine and wine production. All of these are good first steps toward getting our hearts and minds around the issue.
However, most of these discussions relate to the first part of the lifecycle of a bottle of wine. To see the whole picture, you must look at the entire lifecycle of a bottle of fine wine.
The technology currently exists for vineyards and wineries to go green and become sustainable. Even the carbon footprint associated with transportation of wine from the producer to the consumer can be managed. Interestingly, the part of the fine wine lifecycle that will be the most difficult to make sustainable is the act of buying the wine.
Let us explain. The 2007 first growths from Bordeaux will be released at $700 a bottle. That is just slightly less than the cost of seven barrels of crude oil! We are not saying that seven barrels of crude went into its production, but the money came from somewhere. Unless the people who are buying fine wine earn their income in a sustainable industry, $700 of after-tax income has a large carbon footprint.
Now, we are not suggesting that we all boycott and stop buying fine wines, but we are suggesting that we stop and consider what we are doing with our money and the impact that it has. Sometimes it is just a little too easy to sip a glass of fine wine and sneer at the people in the Hummer as they drive by.
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