Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

sustainability has become an increasing concern for wine producers, shippers, merchants, and consumers. In an era of climate change, environmental concerns have been uppermost, but considerations of economic and social sustainability are becoming increasingly common, too.

For producers, and certainly vine growers, sustainable viticulture is the most obvious first step, but an increasing number are considering their entire carbon footprint, including thorough consideration of all vehicles, equipment, and products used in the vineyard, winery, cellar, packaging, and even shipping. Some producers market themselves on their sustainable credentials, planting trees to act as carbon sinks, insulating their buildings, recycling with a vengeance, and switching to low-input vehicles and alternative energy sources. Many of these decisions result in increased costs, however, demanding a reconciliation of environmentally sound choices with economically feasible ones—and all of these decisions have to be made with potential wine quality in mind. For example, temperature-controlled shipping containers can increase carbon use, but many producers and retailers of fine wine would argue that they are necessary to avoid heat damage. On the other hand, a producer of more basic wine may well decide that shipping to export markets in bulk is more sustainable than bottling at source. Others may decide to reduce the amount of energy needed for packaging and shipping by choosing alternative packaging for their wine.