Austria steps up sustainability push

The Austrian Winegrowers Association has launched an online tool which allows producers to assess their sustainability practices, with a view to creating a full certification programme by next year.

AWMB / Gerhard Trumler

AWMB / Gerhard Trumler

The project has seen the organisation work closely with a number of industry experts to set out a series of objectives across areas such as grape production, winemaking, vineyard management and socio-economic conditions.

Copyright: Austrian Winegrowers Association

The online tool allows producers to enter a series of operating figures, which are then analysed and returned to them in the form of a diagram (see example, right)

Each of the black dots marks progress within a certain area relating to sustainability, with the green zone representing an above average performance and the red zone highlighting areas where there is particular room for improvement.

The system operates on a relative scale rather than concrete figures and is weighted so that activities which make a big contribution to sustainability, such as lightweight bottles, receive a higher value.

Insisting that the project “is not a marketing gag,” Johannes Schmuckenschlager, president of the Austrian Winegrowers’ Association, commented: “It is important to put this topic positively in the heads of the consumers now, before it is approached from outside the sector.”

Josef Glatt, managing director of the Austrian Winegrowers’ Association, acknowledged the “very active” work carried out by other countries in the sustainability field as he claimed: “Austria is predestined to work actively on sustainability, especially because of its work with soil and plant protection.”

The programme was welcomed by Willi Klinger, managing director of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, who remarked: “Bio is positive, but alone, it’s too little. The new sustainability project fits perfectly with Austria’s positioning as an original holiday land with pure nature.”

However, Klinger also highlighted the long term focus required for this scheme to be a success, saying: “The argument for sustainability requires a high degree of participation in the project over a long period of time.”

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