Did you know that Thursday, April 22, is Earth Day? There are many environmental and climate challenges for us to overcome to help the earth’s biosphere become healthier. Wineries from around the world are doing their part to help. The Champagne region has taken up this challenge and has several initiatives to help minimize the effects the climate change and environmental damage. On average, harvest in Champagne starts 18 days earlier than it did 30 years ago. In 2020, the region recorded its earliest grape harvest start date in history, and the sixth to start in August over the past 15 years.
Some Key Highlights to Address the Challenge
- Champagne was the first wine-growing region in the world to equip itself with an ambitious plan to cut carbon emissions. Since the plan was enacted in 2003, the C02 emissions generated by each bottle of Champagne have been cut by 20%. The goal is to achieve a 75% decrease by 2050.
- The 16,100 winegrowers, 360 houses, and 140 cooperatives of the Champagne region have also worked towards a goal of eliminating all herbicides by 2025. From 2003-2020, Champagne eliminated 50 percent of the phytosanitary products and nitrogen fertilizers it used.
- Champagne is also working to invent new grape varieties by breeding hybrids. The aim is to produce varieties with effective and sustainable resistance, improving the vines’ growing capability and the quality of the wine produced in the face of a changing climate. They plan to cross the European vine species
(Vitis vinifera) with American species (Vitis riparia, Vitis rupestris, Vitis berlandieri, Vitis labrusca or Muscadina rotundifolia). For the first series of varieties planted in 2011-2012, evaluation resulted in four
new varieties being included in the French National Institute for Agricultural, Food and Environment Research plant breeding catalog to foster the development of sustainable winegrowing: Voltis, Floreal, Artaban and Vidoc. Typically it takes 15 years to develop and select new grape varieties.
Reducing Their Carbon Footprint
There are five things that the Champanois are doing to help reduce their carbon footprint:
- Encouraging growers to implement sustainable wine-growing methods. Includes reducing energy consumption, developing eco-initiatives, and rolling out a biomass plan.
- Putting forward cleaner transportation solutions to help reduce the impact of freight and travel, favouring clean transportation methods when shipping bottles.
- Improving their buildings’ thermal efficiencies, developing renewable energy, and promoting sustainable construction.
- Opting for low environmental footprint goods and services, including controlling the impact of bottles and packaging. The weight of bottles have been reduced by 7%. Packaging contributes to 1/3 of Champagne’s carbon emissions.
- Including each stakeholder in the industry’s carbon footprint assessment and helping businesses develop their own action plans.
Waste Recycling and Biomass Conversion
Reusing the materials generated at the winery and vineyard are goals in Champagne. They are enriching the soil with 80% of the vine wood from the last season. 20% of the vine wood is burned which equates to a potential of not using 0.5 tonnes of oil equivalent per hectare. 90% of the winery waste is sorted and recycled or used to recover energy. 100% of winemaking sub-products are used by industry (fuel and industrial alcohol), cosmetics, healthcare, and the agro-food sector. The Champagne region is also focusing on supplies and is seeking to replace fossil fuel-based supplies with bio-sourced supplies coming from the agricultural resources produced in the region.
I appreciate reading about all these things, and many more, that the Champagne region wineries are doing to help care for the environment, and wish them a Happy Earth Day! Merci to the Champagne Bureau, USA, for providing me with this information.