Ban big bottles
Phil Handford, managing director of Central Otago pinot noir specialist Grasshopper Rock, recently sent me a carefully researched document which he had prepared after observing shrinking glaciers during his many flights between Auckland and Queenstown.
“Every time I fly this route and look down on the retreating glaciers, I am reminded of climate change. The last two vintages, the very cold 2017 vintage and the extremely hot and early 2018 vintage, left us wondering what effect climate change will have on the vineyards of Central Otago. There is good climate data available to study.”
The complete document can be found on Grasshopper Rock’s website.
Handford demonstrates that climate change is a reality and that the life cycle events of the grapevine during the growing season; such as budbreak, flowering, veraison and harvest; will be earlier as the mean temperature increases.
According to the California Sustainable Winegrower Alliance, the largest contributor to the carbon footprint is the glass bottle at 29%.
“In terms of managing for increasing temperatures, we are fortunate to be so far south that any increase in temperature can be managed with careful canopy management and harvest decisions.”
“Some suggest weather events will be more extreme. The local historical data shown does not suggest things are becoming more extreme. There have previously been extreme vintages like 2017 and 2018.”
The effects of climate change can be slowed if we reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to the California Sustainable Winegrower Alliance, the largest contributor to the carbon footprint is the glass bottle at 29% of the carbon footprint. The next largest contributor is bio-geochemical field emissions at 17%. Bio-geochemical field emissions is the footprint associated with greenhouse gas emission from biological cycles associated with applying nitrogen fertiliser, cultivation, composting and other management practices.
“We use Light Weight Traditional Burgundy bottles which weigh 417 grams (gm). The standard Premium Burgundy bottles (545gm) are 31% heavier and are common in Central Otago. The Grand Burgundy bottles (702gm) which some use for their top end wines are 68% heavier than the lightweight bottles. Not only can we reduce our carbon foot print significantly by reducing glass weight, we also reduce shipping volumes with the smaller cases size as a result.”
Wine drinkers can make their contribution toward a reduction in the carbon footprint of wine by boycotting wines packaged in heavy bottles. It will make a difference.