Mark Aselstine takes a look at how the wine industry is adapting rapidly to become less environmentally unfriendly.
by Mark Aselstine , published August 15, 2013
The wine industry is notoriously not green, which is an interesting paradox because the industry can only survive if the environment continually allows for the production of high quality grapes. Despite this, the growing, packaging and shipping of the wine that those grapes produce is still incredibly difficult on the environment.
I thought I’d share some of the ways that I’ve tried to make my own wine business more environmentally friendly over the past two years, while also sharing information that I’ve gleaned from growers and wineries themselves.
Here’s where you can start to see why the wine industry has the possibility to be one of the greenest on the planet. We know that being a green business means saving water, as well as energy. The good thing for grape growers is that grapes which struggle to find adequate water produce better wine. So basically, you can save water as well as craft a better product at the same time, what’s not to like?
That won’t be a familiar term for many, but in essence we’re talking about the winery operations here. A famous Napa Valley winery, Vineyard 29 is showing one route that wineries in the valley’s are taking, being completely run on geothermal power. Of course, most wineries concerned with greening their buildings are going solar rather than geothermal, but when there is so much money already invested in these facilities, it’s easy to see a ripe area for innovation.
Here is one area that’s pretty easy to manage, even when we’re talking about a typical wine club shipment that contains only two bottles of wine in a package. A decade ago, these two bottle packages were filled with Styrofoam, but these days we’re making our shipments to customers in 100% recycled, corrugated cardboard. Not only is it made from 100% recycled materials already but this firm, corrugated cardboard is again able to be 100% recycled, and most of the green leaders in the wine industry feel comfortable with this setup currently. Long term, look for plant based and compostable packaging materials to be coming
Here’s one area still ripe for improvement. In effect, we’re held hostage as an industry by the shipping companies themselves. If I want to send a shipment to Nevada, I have only a few choices when it comes to shipping companies. How efficient are Fedex and UPS trucks? The honest answer is, not very efficient. What I’d love to see is a start up shipping company that focuses on renewable energy on the shipping side. Sure, off setting my carbon costs is a good idea and companies like Green Shipping do a nice job offering offsets at reasonable rates, but it just seems like more can be done given the huge technological advances over the past handful of years.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this look into the wine industry and how it is becoming increasigly green. Do you have any suggestions for the industry as a whole? How has your industry dealt with the issues in regard to shipping products directly to consumers?