You’ll have noticed we’ve been banging on about sustainability a fair wack in the last couple of months. It’s not that it’s the only thing we’ve got to talk about – but we do think it’s pretty important and something we’ve been guilty of being a bit lax on for a little while. Hopefully, we’re half-way to fixing that so here’s the best summary of where we’re up to that we could muster up.
Sustainability… before I continue, I should clarify, this isn’t going to be a preachy sermon about how we at Boutinot have been living in perfect balance with nature for the last 40 years, building straw huts, singing Kumbaya and joining hands to give thanks to Mother Earth. No, we have no high horse to clamber onto, even if we wanted to. Like most people, we’re still getting to grips with sustainability and our role in helping to save the planet.
So, where do Boutinot fit in?
In short, I guess what we can say for now is: “We’re on it” …
Firstly, we have established a Boutinot ‘Green Team’, comprised of members of staff from across the business who meet monthly to come up with new ideas and assess the progress of things we have already begun to do. This covers all aspects of the business, including what we are doing with our own-production outposts around the world, what our agency suppliers are doing and, of course, what we in the UK are doing in and around our little home in Cheadle.
Some of these changes are big and challenging and necessarily take time, others are small and simple, and can happen immediately – nonetheless, all are steps in the right direction. There is also, it should be said, plenty of good stuff that we have been doing for years that will continue, we are simply renewing our focus and creating a means for our staff to be more involved in working toward a greater good. Our goals are based on the four pillars of sustainability – human, social, environmental and economic. Obviously we need to be a profitable business, so without the economic sustainability bit the other three pillars stand no chance of long-term success – conversely we also firmly believe that, in time, economic stability will not be possible if we cannot demonstrate constant improvement in the human, social and environmental areas. Increasingly it is what our customers and consumers expect, and rightly there will be more and more scrutiny of any claims made.
We do not want this to be a cynical ‘greenwashing’ exercise, this has to mean something more than ticking boxes and keeping up appearances. However, there are frankly too many passionate voices getting behind this in the business for that to be allowed to happen.
What about our suppliers?
The truth is that pretty much every one of our suppliers is looking at becoming as sustainable as possible, but if we printed all of their deeds so far here we’d have to chop down a good few trees extra, which wouldn’t seem in the spirit of things really. Therefore, we’ve highlighted a couple of our suppliers who particularly stand out for some of the amazing things they’ve achieved in the name of sustainability and safeguarding our industry for future generations.
Cave de Tain
Cave de Tain practise something they call Sustainable Development. This aims to balance economic performance with environmental and social impact to avoid compromising future generations.
- Certified under Vignerons Developpement Durable (VDD) since 2009.
- Created sulphite-free organic wines.
- Installed beehives on the cellar roof to promote pollination.
- Created ‘Collective River Contract’ with local partners to avoid pollution.
- Use of grape marc methanisation to generate electricity.
- Recycling 65-75% of their production waste each year.
Keith Tulloch and his family made the monumental decision to become a carbon-neutral winery last year, after successive vintages of unprecedented temperatures and an alarming trend towards long-term changes in the annual cycle of grapevine growth. They feel these factors are a clear and present threat to agriculture in Australia.
- Certified carbon neutral winery – the first in the Hunter Valley and only the second in Australia to be certified by the Australian Government.
- Changing waste mix to maximise paper, cardboard, aluminium and plastic recycling.
- Changing single-use plastics to biodegradable or recyclable alternatives.
- Using only organic fertiliser.
- Upgrading the wastewater system to recycle and return it to the parks and gardens.
- Tracking and reporting sustainability metrics through the Australian Wine Research Institute’s ENTWINE program.
- Purchase of a 65kw solar array, providing the vast majority of winery power needs.
Emiliana almost feels more like a nature reserve than a winery. Every step of the grape-growing and winemaking process are carefully considered to ensure a natural balance is maintained.
They believe that organic and biodynamic practices are the key to working in a sustainable way, particularly when it comes to the regeneration and care for the soils. They also believe that within the soils there is an opportunity to limit the emission of greenhouse gases; by constantly adding organic matter they are helping to stabilise carbon that otherwise would go into the atmosphere.
- Began converting to organic vineyards in 1998, now 100%.
- First South American winery to produce a biodynamic certified wine in 2006 – now 100%.
- Produce a full annual Sustainability Report.
- Run a Bio-Intensive Garden programme which is extended to 12 neighbouring vineyards.
- Employee programme for production of alpaca and sheep’s wool as well as natural honey.
- Plastic & glass recycling, composting organic waste and cover cropping.
- Aiming for at least 10% of each estate achieving biodiversity.
- Tracking CO2 emissions, electricity, gas and water consumption.