Reconciling Wine’s Eternal Sin
The world is coming to terms with our impact on climate change. Our industry acutely recognizes this and, due to our tight connection with land and weather, are at the forefront of trying to reconcile our impact. Whether with Dan Petroski in Napa, Miguel Torres in Spain, Antonio Graca in Portugal, Donnafugata since 2011, and even tactically and relevant to this post, Kendall Jackson and Jason Haas from Tablas Creek in CA, and so many more, the wine world is challenging itself to understand and reduce or counter the negative impacts on the environment of growing and making wine. And while these efforts deserve to be lauded, we have yet to admit or reconcile our eternal sin.
What is that sin? When people talk about the magic wine, it’s often about the flavors and aromas. The stories of seasons and people. But at the heart, wine is about place. And fundamentally about sharing that place, its culture, and its stories with people around the world. Therein lies our eternal sin. To do so, we need to send wine around the planet. Heavy juice in heavy bottles that often requires temperature controlled shipping. And even with possible innovations in technology to reduce the weight of packaging (Tetra Pack, bladders on containers, domestic bottling, drinking local, and so much more) we are NEVER going to stop shipping wine around the world. The beauty of enjoying French champagne, the complexity of aged Rioja reds, comparing Argentine Malbec vs Cahors, enjoying Australian reisling, or the power of Napa Cabernet, etc. is intrinsic to the enjoyment of our product. But that desire to share our wines of place that magically bridges the gaps of space, time and language is our gift to the world but simultaneously our sin. While some wineries are beginning to factor distribution into their carbon equation we as an industry are still not addressing the central and eternal fact, wine is designed to be shared and travel. As such, wine by design, will forever have a heavy carbon footprint. By admitting that wine will always carry a carbon heavy cost due to its core design will allow us to design better and more comprehensive ways to offset it and over time reconcile what will always be our environmental sin.