Cheers to Sustainable Champagne!

Innovating in the European sparkling wine industry
Cheers to Sustainable Champagne!
Publ. date 15 Dec 2014
With the upcoming Christmas holidays, the sparkling wine industry is looking forward to its financial peak in the last month of the year. The Christmas and New Year’s sales of Champagne alone account for 15% of total annual. However, the core activities of the global wine business are threatened by climate change, as the map of wine is migrating to cooler climates. Champagne no longer coming from the Champagne area in France, and Cava not originally produced in Spain are possible future scenario’s. So how does the glamorous sparkling wine industry deal with this alarming issue?

How global warming is determining for sparkling wine production 

As of the early 2000’s climate change has emerged as a global topic. The changing weather conditions are affecting the sparkling wine business in the long term, as the most crucial step in the production process of sparkling wine is the harvest of wine grapes. The timetable of harvesting is determined by the weather. Heat, rain and hail may for instance damage the grapes severely and spread vine diseases.

The famous Champagne area in France already experiences the consequences of global warming. The earlier budding of the plants due to climate change makes them more vulnerable to spring freezes, which results in extreme harvest losses for wine growers in May. In the well-known sparkling wine regions in France, Italy and Spain, the higher mean temperatures are pushing the limits of optimum climates in the crucial growing season between April and September. As a result the sweet spot for sparkling wine is moving towards more Northern regions with cooler climates, such as England. 

Materialities concerning a glass of bubbles 

Having a global metatrend that affects the entire (sparkling) wine industry in its core business, requires action. Therefore the Spanish Wine Federation founded the ‘Wineries for Climate Protection’ (WfCP) initiative, sponsored by the Organisation Internationale de la Vigne et du Vin (OIV). Its aim is to position ‘Wineries for Climate Protection’ as an international reference on the wine industry and the environment, searching for improvements for wine growers and wine houses. Members of the initiative, including the luxurious Cava brand Freixenet, are jointly taking the responsibility for sustainable viticulture. Practicing sustainable viticulture addresses the ten material issues defined as priorities by the WfCP: 

  • Reduction of emissions (CO2)
  • Sustainable building
  • Energy reduction & renewable energy
  • Sustainable Agriculture an Biodiversity
  • Reduction of water footprint
  • Ecodesign
  • Waste reduction
  • Efficient logistics
  • Innovation
  • Communication

Redesigning bottles: small change, major impact 

The sparkling wine industry has not been idle, and came up with the practice of sustainable product innovation, that addresses various materialities at once. The novelty of the product is not the drink in itself, but can be found in the ecodesign of the bottle containing the delightful bubbles. In the past the Comité Interprofessionnel des Vins de Champagne dictated the Champagne industry with its standards of producing authentic bottles of 75 centiliters with a weight of 900 grams. However, in 2010 the committee agreed to new standards for Champagne bottles and announced the technical validation of a bottle of 835 grams. Although 65 grams less does not seem much, the truth is that this small change can result in an annual reduction of 8,000 tons of CO2 emissions, the equivalent of removing 3,000 cars from the road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking at efficient logistics, more bottles (up to 1,000) can be loaded in one truck with the 835 grams Champagne bottles having economic savings in transport costs as a result. In addition, the design and advantages that have been achieved in reducing the weight of the glass led to 11% waste reduction. The results of lighter Champagne bottles emphasize the great importance of sparkling wine packaging and its environmental impact. 

Make your business more sustainable 

Just like the Champagne industry, your company is affected by various material issues. Are you ready to address them in a way that creates value for the company and society through eco-efficiency, customer intimacy and innovation? Please contact Jan van der Kaaij at jan@finchandbeak.com or call +31 6 28 02 18 80 for more information. For now, we would like to propose a toast in honor of a happy, successful and most of all a sustainable 2015! 

About Jan van der Kaaij

Sustainability expert in strategy development, DJSI and sustainable innovation, with a hands-on approach and always committed to go for the max. | jan@finchandbeak.com 

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