“Priority number one is leaving the land in better shape for the next generation," is how the three scientists Armand Gilinsky Jr., Sandra K. Newton and Rosanta Fuentes Vega summed it up in their 2016 study "Sustainability in the global wine industry: Concepts and cases." The focus, it becomes clear, is on "land." This summarises the problem of the topic well: when it comes to sustainability in viticulture, everyone immediately thinks of colourful flowering vineyards and happy bees. And of course, sustainable viticulture is to a large extent about harmony with nature.
However, sustainability is much more than that. In addition to the environmental aspect, it includes social and economic considerations and implementation. Fair working conditions, further training of employees, green electricity, the CO2 footprint should all complement measures such as vineyard greening and avoiding herbicides on an equal footing. Organic certificates are not a must, but an option, as is forgoing plant protection. If it is essential, for example, to protect the harvest and thus economic stability, including jobs, moderate use of fungicides also fits into a sustainable concept.
Here, we explore what sustainability means from country-to-country and we examine the bodies that govern it, the initiatives that place a focus on it, and how it differs – or is the same – throughout the world. We also investigate the certifications, labels and seals that signify a sustainable process and product.
In part 1, we travel through the New World. Part 2, which will follow next week, will discover the Old World’s sustainability projects.