Rob Symington on Climate Change: “We Have To Be Activists”

At an online conference this week, members of the International Wineries for Climate Action (IWCA) spoke of the need to “be activists” in order to bring about real change in the fight against carbon emissions.

Founded last year by Familia Torres and Jackson Family Wines, the IWCA is a small but growing group of wineries dedicated to ‘de-carbonizing’ the wine industry and combatting the effects of climate change.

Crucially, the group requires its members to commit to actively lowering its carbon emissions. The requirements upon joining are:

A complete end-to-end (through Scopes 1-3) Greenhouse Gas emissions inventory (which must be completed six months after joining).

At least 20% of power generated through on-site renewable energy.

Demonstrate a reduction of at least 25% in CO2 emissions for every litre of wine produced after a baseline of emissions has been established.

A commitment to reducing total emissions by 50% by 2030 and ‘climate positive’ by 2050.

Speaking at the conference, Familia Torres’ sustainability manager, Josep-Maria Ribas, explained that all the objectives are, “science based”, to allow members to work towards producing real results in how their companies and wineries operate.

Also speaking was Rob Symington of Symington Family Estates, one of the first wineries to sign up to the IWCA. He said that the big challenge when it came to meaningful change in environmental initiatives was to “avoid greenwashing”.

Not wanting to be criticized and being seen to do something had been the “usual approach” in this area for many years and many sceptics are all too eager to pounce on projects – even good ones – that lack some sort of robustness to their processes.

This is why as well as setting its own goals, Symington said that the family-run group had been, “seeking external frameworks where we’re being held accountable to things we said we would do and that’s the most effective way to avoid falling into the trap of greenwashing”.

And while Symington Family Estates, alongside Torres, Jackson and other members, are able to take control of certain emission hotspots in the vineyards and winery more directly – producing their own energy, cutting energy use, adapting their vineyards to the changing climate, etc – there’s also a strong case for ‘activism’.

As Symington continued: “Over 85% of our emissions are beyond our control – they’re produced by the brandy makers we buy spirit from, glassmakers and transportation and so on,” but, he continued, customers at all points are able to “act as lobbyists to change those emissions from our partners”, and “put positive pressure throughout the chain”.

He added that it sometimes seemed at odd for very traditional wineries to act like activists but countered it was also important to, “stick your neck out and sign up to things like the IWCA. We joined to hold our feet to the fire and to justify the steps we need to take”.

Having goals and being held accountable is vital if not only the structural systems are going to change but the culture behind them that enables those structural systems are going to change too.

But given the challenges and threat posed to vineyards and longstanding family companies by climate change, there is also a (perfectly) legitimate form of “enlightened self-interest” in being a champion for the cause, as Symington admitted.

The IWCA is currently comprised of nine members across the Americas, Europe and Antipodes, with another two apparently close to signing up. Membership is not restricted by size and Ribas added it was currently compiling an emissions calculator that would help smaller wineries be able to join and identify where to focus their efforts to meet the entry requirements without the need to hire expensive consultants.

IWCA website – https://www.iwcawine.org/

Sources:  Drinks Business and IWCA

Wine Review: Louis Pommery NV Brut Sparkling – California

Pommery is closely associated with Champagne; a few years ago, Pommery expanded to the USA under “Louis Pommery”, using California grapes to make a new world style sparkling wine.

After eight years of R & D, Cellar Director, and oenological DevelopmentManager Thierry Gasco refined a revolutionary method to craft wine with encapsulated yeast, which eliminates all deposits from the bottle, gives the wine an unprecedented degree of clarity and brilliance.

Using the methode champenoise principle this wine is made with 96% chardonnay and 4% pinot noir grapes.

Louis Pommery is an ode to the maison’s iconic style, evoking vivacity, freshness and finesse.

Tasting Notes:

Beautiful straw yellow colour with a lively effervescence; soft aromas of toasted baguette, fresh flowers with notes of green apples which flow through to the palate; slight citrusy note; the finish is long and toasty.

A wonderful and well-priced offering.

92 points

Vintages Release Date: September 5, 2020 –  # 15894

Bottle Size: 750 mL bottle

Alcohol/Vol:12.5%

Made In: California, USA

By: Vranken Pommery America

Sugar Content:10 g/L

Style: Medium body

Varietal: Chardonnay Blend

Redefining California cool and set to become a game-changer in the sparkling wine category!

Liz Palmer:  Review October 15 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What we can do to help California Wine Country?

Since the beginning of 2020, there have been over 8,100 wildfires in California, alone.   August 15 when fire activity increased extensively, there have been over 26 fatalities and 7,000 homes and businesses destroyed. This week, the California wine country was affected by the “Glass Fire”, which burned parts of Sonoma and Napa. The images are disturbing and the wine industry, as a whole, is with heavy-heart!

Here’s how you can help:

1. Donate to charitable organizations – see list below;
2. Book a trip in advance: support the wine country by visiting them;
3. Shop California wines: search for local shops, DTC winery shipments, order California wines in restaurants and bars; and
4. Show your support by using #WineCountryStrong on social media.

American Red Cross
California Community Foundation’s Wildlife Relief Fund
California Fire Foundation
Google (Scroll down and click “Yes, Donate”)
Humane Society of Ventura County
Salvation Army
United Way of Greater Los Angeles

Stay safe and show your support!

Liz Palmer

Young red wine is found to be more beneficial than aged wine, study finds

A recent study of 16 wines from Australia and New Zealand has found levels of healthy antioxidants, existing mainly in red grapes, decreased significantly over time.

CQUniversity lead researcher Mani Naiker said the compound, trans-resveratrol, was proven to have cardiovascular, anti-inflammatory, and anti-diabetic effects.

“The more you consume this compound in your food or in beverages, it is perceived to give you better health benefits,” Dr Naiker said.

“When we compare younger bottled wines with mature red wines, we have proven that as the wine ages the concentration of this important bioactive compound decreases by about 75 percent over a 16-month period.

“That is a huge decrease in the concentration of this particularly important health-benefiting compound.”

Lead researcher Dr. Mani Naiker states that the compound is proven to have cardiovascular, anti-inflammatory, and anti-diabetic effects.

The study published in the Australian Journal of Grape and Wine Research, found the concentration decreased in some wines by as much as 96 percent.

After the initial resveratrol levels were measured, the bottles were resealed and stored in darkness in their original packaging.

“Irrespective to where we got the red wine from, which variety it was, the process of that compound, the loss was the same,” Dr Naiker said.

“I might just leave it with the French paradox that having a glass of red with a meal every day is good for your health.

“Now you know, you might want to go with a young red rather than an old one.”

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ajgw.12449

The Fine Wine Market Expands to Further Heights

Recently reported, July proved to be a positive month for the fine wine market, due to an ever-broadening array of wines being traded.

Liv-ex states on its website that the number of unique wines traded on the exchange in the first half of 2020 was 37% higher than the same period in 2019.

These are wines marked with code known as an LWIN7, which identifies the producer or brand as well as a specific grape variety or vineyard associated with it.

The second half of the year got off to an even stronger start when the number of wines with an LWIN7 traded in July alone exceeded 1,000 for the first time, 20% higher than the previous record monthly high.

This is due to an on-going broadening of the market at the expense of Bordeaux. Although a vital component of the fine wine secondary market, Bordeaux’s share of trade has been in decline for some time now. January 2020, 46% of unique wines traded on Liv-ex were claret, but by July that figure was down 34%.

At the same time, while Bordeaux has seen the smallest growth in new wines traded, Italy, Spain and the Rhône are recording exponential growth; with unique wines traded up 154%, 153% and 127% respectively since January.

Wines from Austria, Germany, Chile and the Loire have also seen growth (from a small base) and added new and unique wines

Italy of course has been rising for some time now. In October last year it was noted that the number of Italian wines traded on Liv-ex had risen 1,500% in the last 10 years.

Italian wines were also excluded from the 25% import tariffs the US recently imposed on numerous EU produce.

Spain, a small player in fine wine, has seen the number of its unique wines traded rise to match those of the US.

Liv-ex  https://www.liv-ex.com/news-insights/

Source:  Liv-ex