Monday Musings: What Does Sustainability Mean in Wine

Prosecco Hills

Today’s Monday Musings is all about Sustainability. I am think about the topic because it seems that we are all speaking about it these days and that many wineries use the term more often. While I am super happy about the renewed attention to our environment and sustainable practices in the vineyard and in the cellar, I am wondering if we are all using the term to mean the same things. Somewhat like natural wine or clean wine for that matter, what exactly do those terms mean.

Sustainable agriculture usually means processes that care for the vineyard and perhaps the livestock on the vineyard. Other wineries intend it to mean the larger ecosystem which involves vineyard workers and still others go even further and include local communities.

According to Sustainable Agriculture website, “The basic goals of sustainable agriculture are environmental health, economic profitability, and social and economic equity (sometimes referred to as the “three legs” of the sustainability stool). ” In my experience, a limited number of the wineries that I have dealt with get to the third leg of this which includes the social and economic equity piece.

They go even further and talk about how “Sustainability rests on the principle that we must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.  Therefore, stewardship of both natural and human resources is of prime importance.” 

I like these definitions very much but I am not sure we are all using them in the same way. Part of me feels no matter because the important issue is that we are thinking about it at all but on the other hand, I do feel that we should have a working definition that we all agree upon.

“Finally, it is important to point out that reaching toward the goal of sustainable agriculture is the responsibility of all participants in the system, including farmers, laborers, policymakers, researchers, retailers, and consumers.  Each group has its own part to play, its own unique contribution to make to strengthen the sustainable agriculture community,” the website notes.

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