Sustainable wine starts with local production
There’s no official definition for what makes a wine ‘local’. It’s a hard to define concept. Consider, however, the maximum amount of time that you’d be willing to travel to taste wine directly from a vineyard. For us, it means finding small producers within a 400 km (roughly 4-hour) radius of Amsterdam.
Why does local wine even matter?
Well, it’s said that the majority of greenhouse gas emissions associated with wine are tied to the distribution process. That should come as no surprise if you’ve ever considered what it takes to transport a case of wine from New Zealand to Amsterdam. That’s a distance of nearly 20,000 km!
For the sake of comparison, a wine produced in Limburg (in the southeastern part of The Netherlands) travels around 200 km to the capital city of Amsterdam. That’s a 99% reduction compared to that bottle of Marlborough. (Other famous regions and their distances to Amsterdam: Duoro Valley, 1,750 km; Napa Valley, 9,000 km; Stellenbosch, 13,000 km; Barossa Valley, 16,000 km.)
Focused on the wrong targets
Not to get too stuck on numbers, these figures highlight a strange pattern:
Specifically, we expect sustainable practices in the vineyard and the cellar (rightfully so), and forget about what happens when the bottles leave the producer. And while ‘organic’, ‘biodynamic’, and ‘natural’ make for a clever set of buzzwords, distribution practices still account for the vast majority of a wine’s carbon footprint. After all, there’s nothing sexy about ‘transport’, ‘packaging’, and ‘delivery’.
Finding an answer
Admittedly, working solutions must be as nuanced as the centuries-old system of wine distribution itself. That said, a number of industry newcomers are taking steps to address such problems. At the end of the day, however, the solution’s in the hands of the consumer. So, if you can, drink local!
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