Pernod Ricard’s Aussie wine brands achieve 100% renewable electricity

Pernod Ricard Winemakers, owner of brands Jacob’s Creek, St Hugo and Wyndham Estate, has claimed it is the first large wine company in Australia to convert its production to 100% renewable electricity.

All of the group’s sites in Australia are now powered with renewable electricity after the company installed what it states is Australia’s largest combined winery solar power project.

Working with energy company AGL, Pernod Ricard has installed over 10,300 solar panels across its Barossa Valley wineries. These panels are expected to generate an average of 4,000 megawatt-hours a year, the equivalent amount of electricity required to power 800 homes.

The wine group is also connected to both offsite wind and solar farms, which it says is another first for a wine company in South Australia, following its 10-year virtual generation agreement with electricity retailer Flow Power.

Thus the company sources the rest of the energy it requires by solar and wind power.

The group has recently unveiled its 2030 sustainability and responsibly roadmap, consisting of eight goals which are aligned to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. These include its affiliate businesses each having a local biodiversity project by 2030; creating regenerative agricultural schemes in all the wine regions in which it operates; ensuring equal pay and top level gender balance; committing to train 10,000 bartenders; banning use of single-use in promotional materials; reducing its carbon footprint by 50% and committing to sustainable water sourcing; partnering with alcohol misuse programmes; and expanding its ‘responsible party’ student programme.

Brett McKinnon, CEO of Pernod Ricard Winemakers, said: “Pernod Ricard Winemakers is excited to be the first large wine company in Australia to produce wine using electricity sourced entirely from renewable sources, well ahead of our initial goal and other large wine companies.

“Being sustainable and responsible is an important part of our business, particularly as producers of wine – a product that takes its character from the land where it was grown. We want to minimise our impact on the communities where we operate, responding to the local climate and preserving the environment for future generations to come.

“Our journey began in 2016 with a pilot solar installation after we recognised that we had a huge opportunity across our wineries to harness the power of the sun through solar panels. Three years later, we are exceptionally proud to say that we are now sourcing all electricity from renewable sources, in alignment with our global ambition,” he said.

It follows news of the company’s French operation being accused of putting “constant pressure” on staff to consume alcohol during an employment tribunal.

The company, which is currently in the process of consolidating its two domestic French businesses – Pernod and Ricard – into one company, leading to job losses, has vehemently denied the accusations.

Speaking to db‘s sister magazine, The Spirits Business, chairman and CEO of Pernod Ricard, Alexandre Ricard, said: “There’s absolutely zero obligation to drink. So it’s quite saddening because it not only shocked me – I can take a shock – it shocked people on the ground.”

“In the code of conduct, the charter, we say not only is there no obligation [to drink], but if there’s inappropriate behaviour and abuse of alcohol, it can go all the way through to termination, and it has happened.”

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