Sustainability
By George Stewart

Everywhere you look in 2019 you see evidence of how climate change affects the world we live in. Unpredictable weather patterns, warming, acidic oceans and dwindling biodiversity is having a sharp, observable impact at a faster rate than ever before. The world of fine wine is far from immune. We as wine lovers pride ourselves one a global outlook, seeking out interesting bottles from far-flung corners of the world, new wine regions recently planted, new techniques benefitting from the latest technology and understanding, but all of those elements contribute the the impact that wine has on the planet.

Winemakers and growers have long been some of the most deeply attuned individuals when it comes to the influence that climate change is having on agriculture. It’s not just about yields as it is with other crops, but at every level of interaction it is clear that climate change has had its effect and almost overwhelmingly the effect is negative. I say almost because we have had a strong run of vintages in Bordeaux, but calling this a positive is a very short term view of a problem that requires long-term thinking.

Thankfully the wine industry is by and large well-engaged on an environmental level, even if its practices over the majority of the past century have been decidedly un-green, to put it mildly. There is renewed focus on sustainability from an agricultural point of view with vineyards turning to organics and biodynamics in order to encourage greater vineyard health and resilience against natural hazards.

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“Drinkers are increasingly demanding sustainable practices even at the highest end of the fine wine spectrum, but it’s also prudent for growers looking toward the future.”

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It’s good business for them because drinkers are increasingly demanding sustainable practices even at the highest end of the fine wine spectrum, but it’s also prudent for growers looking toward the future. Ensuring their vineyard health and the health of the ecosystem in which it exists means their grapes will thrive even in adverse conditions, resist natural hazards like pests and viticultural diseases and possibly be better prepared for a hotter climate.

It is easy to see why vineyards would feel an impulse to “go green”. By their very definition they depend upon the climate cooperating with them. But what about us, the merchants? What role do we have to play?

This year Cru launched its own sustainability initiative, aimed at providing more clarity and transparency on greenhouse gas emissions. Transporting a bottle of wine in its possibly wooden case from Argentina to the United Kingdom, or for that matter Singapore or Hong Kong means carbon emissions, and a lot of them. We are in the business of moving wine across vast distances but our thinking is that we can do so in a much more efficient manner and we can include our customers in the decision making process from the moment they buy the wine until the day they either pull the cork or sell it on.

This year Cru launched its own sustainability initiative, aimed at providing more clarity and transparency on greenhouse gas emissions. Transporting a bottle of wine in its possibly wooden case from Argentina to the United Kingdom, or for that matter Singapore or Hong Kong means carbon emissions, and a lot of them. We are in the business of moving wine across vast distances but our thinking is that we can do so in a much more efficient manner and we can include our customers in the decision making process from the moment they buy the wine until the day they either pull the cork or sell it on.

That is why we believe that every wine drinker, colletor and investor should know the impact their passion has on the planet. When a Cru customer is about to check out and is presented with their delivery options they will immediately be shown how much CO2 each option will release. For customers who wish to trade their wine or at the very least hold onto it for the foreseeable future without drinking it, the need to bring it to the UK or Hong Kong, etc. is negligible. Far better for the planet (and the wine) to keep your First Growths in our Bordeaux warehouse instead of air-freighting it or shipping it around the globe.

It’s a small step but a step in the right direction and a part of a larger overall effort to make sure we do everything in our power to limit the impact our industry and our passion has on the planet. Working with environmentally conscious producers, moving wine only when absolutely necessary and constantly exploring new alternatives for reducing our footprint is not only good business but it’s a responsibility that the wine industry shares with its customers and everyone else.