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   Share this article     Summary of Editorial column Wine Tasting 
  Editorial Issue 193, March 2020   
The Sustainability of WineThe Sustainability of Wine  Contents 
Issue 192, February 2020 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 194, April 2020

The Sustainability of Wine


 Wine, for over fifteen years now, has been continuously subject of debates and fads, and it apparently managed to pass unscathed through the events in which it has been involved in. A subject that seems to be suitable for discussions of all kinds – not least, controversy and debates – anyone who has dealt with wine in the recent decades has witnessed the many social, productive, cultural and economic changes that have had as protagonist the beverage of Bacchus. Many times, it seems everyone is asking things not directly related to it or demanding wine to be this or that and, in spite of this, it is forced to suffer everything in order to satisfy the whims and fads of the moment. After all, when something reaches notoriety and becomes the dominant element in people's culture and customs, it inevitably becomes the object of praise and criticism, not least, requests and condemnations, guilty of who knows what ignominious guilt. The same would happen – undoubtedly – in case wheat gained the same popularity as wine. Everyone would be likely debating about the beauty of durum and common wheat, we would witness heated debates focused on the noble Triticum Durum and Triticum Aestivum, and then moving on to Triticum Monococcum and Dicoccum because today everyone is talking about them.


 

 Moreover, one of the topics on which we are lately debating is focused on two words in particular – sustainability and environment – and, of course, wine is clearly involved in these kinds of discussion. I want to be clear before proceeding further in order to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings. Talking about these issues is clearly wished and welcome, therefore it is essential there is greater attention from all kinds of society – civil and political – in every country in the world. The environmental changes that have affected the planet in recent decades warn us, in fact, it is necessary to become aware of man's activity, the damage it has produced as well as its consequences, highlight behaviors and speculations that clearly need to be changed. This is – trivially – the only planet that, at least for the moment, hosts us and allows life forms, as we know them, to progress and evolve. In this specific case, the ancient Latin adage mors tua, vita mea (your death, my life) does not seem to make much sense, as the death of others, although it may be distant and far, will sooner or later become inevitably ours too.

 When we talk about the environment, the association to sustainability is always implicit. In this sense, we mean the sustainable development of productive activities – industrial and agricultural – in order to make them compatible with the safeguarding and protection of the environment, as well as favoring the fair distribution of the resulting wealth. Sustainability also has the additional and noble goal of allowing the satisfaction of current needs without compromising those of future generations. The attention paid to these topics in recent years has introduced new forms of economy based on sustainable and environmentally friendly principles, generally defined as “green”. Wine, and with this the vine, have clearly undergone the effects of these “new trends” and wineries, especially in recent years, are trying to adopt more “sustainable” agricultural, viticultural and enological practices. What exactly are these practices is not exactly and always clear and, sometimes, in all frankness, they seem to be promotional operations with the aim of preserving or acquiring new market opportunities.

 In this sense, there would be nothing wrong: wineries undeniably are business companies and, as such, they need to make an economic profit from their work and commitment, both by consolidating the current results and trying to get new ones. This obviously does not mean profit is the only reason for any company, but it is certainly a fundamental factor in keeping a company healthy and productive. I also believe it is superfluous to underline that, in general terms, agricultural activities directly depend on the fate of the environment, especially the small ones, and are clearly aware it represents a heritage for them, certainly the most important one. For this reason, any agricultural company, and having a minimum of ethical and moral awareness, I would also add, intelligence, has a strong interest in keeping the environment in which they work to stay healthy and productive. The loss or any damage to the environment, in fact, produces, in the medium and long term, enormous economic loss to any agricultural enterprise, including those making wine.

 Sustainability associated to the world of wine, in general terms, does not seem to have the same impact on the environment which is recorded in other agricultural activities dedicated to intensive and speculative cultivation. If we consider, in fact, the average size of wineries, most of them are quite small compared to other agricultural companies dedicated to other crops and much more productive in quantitative terms and with vastly wider land acreages. Of course, everything is important for the common cause of sustainability of the environment, including wineries, either large or small. Again, it seems the attention is always paid in particular to wine, constantly asking it to be dressed according to the “fashions” of the moment, to follow any trendy topic and that crowd the quarrels fought with keyboard strokes. Organic, biodynamic, ancestral, natural, artisanal, young, indigenous, anarchist, carbonaro, traditional, typical and now also sustainable and respectful of the environment. In this list – I'm sure of this – I have certainly forgotten some adjectives that in recent years have been associated with wine and the many absolute enological truths.

 Environmental sustainability, of course, is a serious and important issue, both for an ethical and moral matter and for the existential interest of all, while pointing out “this environment” is the only one we have and in which we all live in. All of us are clearly involved and all – according to the limits of everyone's possibility and responsibility – are called to do our duty. Including wine, of course, and the figures involved in its expression, from the producer to the consumer. What needs to be done in order to create a “sustainable” wine, however, is not entirely clear. This is also because, so it seems to me, everyone believes they know exactly what a sustainable wine is, while opposing all those who do not believe in the same principle. It has already happened in the past – and will continue to happen – that the “schools of enological thought” face each other in a duel, strenuously fighting wars that no one has ever won, creating only opposing factions of religious dogmas evidently sacred and indisputable. Of course, a sustainable development respecting the environment is a topic that should concern everyone, especially seen as a duty towards future generations. Hoping – as often happens – it does not turn into an ideological war and in which the only ones to suffer the worst consequences are the environment and wine.

Antonello Biancalana



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  Editorial Issue 193, March 2020   
The Sustainability of WineThe Sustainability of Wine  Contents 
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