5 Environmental Examples From Sustainable Wine Companies

See how sustainable wine companies are working to improve biodiversity, reduce carbon emissions, and more.

Glass of red wine on ledge overlooking vineyard
Photo by Kym Ellis / Unsplash

When you’re facing stiff competition, you might think that you can’t afford to prioritize sustainability. But as many winemakers demonstrate within a crowded industry, it’s possible to focus on environmental impact, which can ultimately reduce expenses, attract conscientious customers, and help create higher-quality products.

Here, we’ll examine five different practices taking place at sustainable wineries (Many overlap, but we'll highlight a few here.).

Even if you’re not in the wine business, many of these practices likely relate to some part of your company, whether that’s your main production processes, your supply chain, or maybe you just want some names of sustainable wine that you can unwind with after work (responsibly, and being of legal drinking age, of course 😀).

Broadside Wines — Cork/Closures Recycling

While many people consider cork to be a renewable material, as it comes from harvesting bark that regrows, rather than cutting down trees, some winemakers such as Broadside — a Paso Robles, CA-based maker of Sustainability in Practice (SIP)-certified wine) are turning to other renewable closures, particularly those made from sugarcane.

Doing so can improve cork recyclability, while also minimizing waste. That’s because some wine becomes tainted from corks that come from contaminated bark. Wine Enthusiast estimates that one billion bottles of wines are ruined because of this every year.

So, Broadside’s use of sugarcane potentially avoids this issue, and customers can send the sugarcane closures back to Broadside to be recycled via its supplier, Vinventions.

For its wines that contain traditional bark-based corks, Broadside also collects these and sends them “to a separate recycling facility, which specializes in repurposing natural corks in other industrial and consumer products,” the brand explains.

Castoro Cellars — Solar Energy

Using alternative energy like solar can significantly reduce carbon emissions while potentially saving money in the long run.

Since 2006, Castoro Cellars, a SIP-certified vineyard and wine brand in San Luis Obispo County, CA, has been building out its solar array. That has included a 2015 installation that produces over one million kilowatt hours annually, which is the equivalent of powering 97 U.S. homes per year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

That project had an estimated five-year payback period, and by eliminating approximately a $20,000 per month electricity bill, Castoro expects to save $240,000 annually for at least 25 years from the time of the installation, according to a press release published in Wine Business.

In all, Castoro says that its operation is completely offset by its 4+ acres of solar panels. Castoro even powers a summer concert series from a mobile solar generator provided by Mobile Solar Power.

Firriato  — Biodiversity

California winemakers are far from the only ones engaging in sustainable business practices. In Sicily, Firriato is a carbon neutral winery, certified by assurance company DNV, that also has strong practices in areas like biodiversity.

For example, to improve the biodiversity of the vineyard ecosystem, Firriato protects pollinating insects like bees and maintains native herbs, among other initiatives.

“These operations start from the objective fact that the quality of the wine varies according to the health of the environment and the plant,” the company notes.

Within the vineyard, you might find wildlife ranging from falcons to wildflowers to snails. Firriato also has started a program with the goal of protecting 13 hectares of forest between one of its estates and the countryside.

Tolosa — Water Conservation

Conserving water not only helps in terms of literally saving this resource in drought-stricken areas, but it also contributes to sustainability on a broader basis, like reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Moving, treating and heating water can take considerable energy, such as accounting for around 20% of California’s electricity usage and 30% of its non-power plant natural gas, as a UC Davis and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power study found.

Tolosa, a SIP-certified vineyard and wine brand in San Luis Obispo, CA, engages in several water conservation practices, such as biologically filtering all winery wastewater on-site, which then gets stored in an irrigation pond so that it can be reused for drip irrigation within the vineyard, the company explains. The irrigation pond also collects rain runoff, which reduces the need to use well water.

Wente Vineyards — Regenerative Agriculture

You don’t have to be a farmer to consider the benefits of regenerative agriculture, which can create healthier soil and sequester carbon. Many businesses, such as food and beverage retailers and clothing companies, also rely on agriculture.

One example of a wine company that’s engaging in regenerative farming practices is Wente Vineyards, a California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance-certified sustainable vineyard and winery in the East Bay.

The company says it follows practices like using a no-till system to help avoid disturbing the soil and lessen tractor emissions, using sheep to graze on vineyard weeds to also help reduce the need for tractors and chemicals, and planting cover crops to provide soil health benefits.

Cheers to Sustainability

As these examples of wine sustainability show, acting with the environment in mind can contribute to improved operations while helping the planet.

Whether you're a beverage business or have agricultural ties where you can engage in practices like regenerative farming, or if you’re a services-based business that can use renewable energy and improve employee recycling practices, for instance, there are many ways to learn from these vineyards and winemakers so you can improve your own company’s sustainability.

Disclosure: Our parent company, JournoContent LLC, has clients involved in sustainability-related areas, among others. The owner of Carbon Neutral Copy, Jacob (Jake) Safane, has investments in sustainability-related companies, among others.

As such, conflicts of interest related to these and other investments/business relationships, even if unintended, may exist at times. Please email info@carbonneutralcopy.com if you'd like further clarification on any issues.

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