In our fifth installment of the greatest changes in drinks since db was launched in July 2002, we consider the affect of environmental concerns.
A strong theme during db’s lifespan has undoubtedly been wine’s impact on the environment.
2006 was the pivotal moment, heralding the first Climate Change and Wine conference in Barcelona, supported by Torres, and New Zealand’s Grove Mill becoming the world’s first carbon neutral winery.
But environmentalism has manifested itself in various ways in the last decade, from agricultural techniques, with sustainable, organic and biodynamic viticulture gaining considerable popularity, to the reduction of carbon emissions, particularly in transport.
The latter has precipitated the adoption of lightweight bottles, or alternative packaging, such as PET plastic, bag-in-box and even cans.
Indeed, bulk shipping and bottling close to the source of demand has become increasingly popular for mainstream wines and retailer own-label products.
In the UK this has been enabled in particular by Accolade Park – a state of the art bottling plant, which became the largest wine warehouse and distribution centre in Europe when it opened in Bristol in January 2009.
A high-profile switch to bottling in the UK was with Jacob’s Creek, which announced in September 2011 that it would ship its entry-level tier in bulk from Australia and bottle the wine at Quinn Glass in north west England.
Meanwhile in 2010 Tesco announced the adoption of a 300g screwcap bottle for its own-label Australian wines, and then the Champagne Bureau confirmed the widespread adoption of a lighter standard Champagne bottle in the region, weighing in at 835g instead of 900g.
Packaging aside, it should be added that the “greening” of drinks, especially wine, has attracted controversy.
Cow horns used in biodynamic farming
The techniques encompassed in Rudolph Steiner’s biodynamic agricultural philosophy in particular have attracted scepticism, although worldwide over 450 vignerons are now certified by biodynamic organisation Demeter International.
Yet more controversial has been the “natural” wine movement, which has highlighted the role of sulphur dioxide in winemaking and preservation. No doubt the natural wine debate will be a defining topic of this decade, that is, when db next looks back.
As for db’s response to environmental concerns in drinks, the magazine was the first wine and spirit title to run an annual green issue, launched in January 2006.
It was also the first to produce a “green list” in 2009, rating those businesses with the greatest positive influence on the environment.
Later that year, we launched the drinks trade’s first green awards. Furthermore, three years ago, db launched a green section in the magazine, bringing news and profiles relating to the greening of drinks in every edition.