Last month Quench Magazine contributor Michelle Bouffard and her small but mighty team staged the fourth and very successful edition of the Tasting Climate Change Conference in Montreal. There were thirty speakers from all over the world with 390 attendees, mostly in person, with some participating online. The thirteen sessions informed, alarmed, and inspired us and gave much food for thought for the future. Here is a dozen of my key takeaways from the conference:
- We need to produce less and more sustainably, share more and decide together on solutions to help us navigate the future. (Yves-Marie Abraham PhD, HEC, Université de Montréal).
- The lack of water in some wine regions is changing the taste of wine, by producing berries with a greater ratio of skins to pulp. Better soil health through less tilling and soil compaction leads to more organic matter, less erosion and better water retention. (Marc-André Selosse PhD, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle of Paris)
- Rather than focusing only on planting new grape varieties, we can increase biodiversity through inter-varietal selection and planting different clones of existing varieties, instead of using the same and limited number of clones (Etienne Neethling PhD, École Supérieure des Agricultures of Angers).
- Research experiments from Geisenheim University’s FACE (Free Air Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Enrichment) experiments have shown that CO2 emissions have led to increased evidence of fungal diseases in vines.
- Forty percent of a wine’s carbon footprint comes from packaging, with single use glass bottles the main culprit. Jason Haas of Tablas Creek believes consumers are more open to change and alternative packaging than wineries think. His first Tablas Creek three litre bag in box premium rosé, priced at US $95, sold out in four hours.
- While organic and biodynamic vineyard practices have positive environmental aspects, regenerative agriculture and farming practices have greater potential to sequestrate more CO2 emissions and could be the key to a healthier future.
- The ancient practice of planting trees in and around vineyards help vineyards adapt to climate change by preserving ecosystems with increased biodiversity, lower temperatures and housing predator species to combat vineyard pests (Pierre Philippe, Vignerons de Buzet and Noelia Orts, Emiliana Organic Vineyards).
- Increased rainfall in Champagne vineyards have caused the roots of vines to grow above ground to escape drowning (Pierre Naviaux, Comité Champagne).
- Decreased snowfall in regions like Quebec has rendered the geotextiles used to protect vines during winter less effective, as the combination of snow cover AND geotextiles increase temperatures by more than ten degrees Celsius (Marc Théberge, Domaine Bergeville).
- The Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) could reduce the carbon emissions of the Bordeaux wines they import and sell by 50% if they were shipped in bulk and bottled in light weight post consumer glass ( Marie-Hélène Lagacé, SAQ).
- Old vines offer genetic resources for climate change since they have been adapting to the changing climate while aging. To the extent possible, we need to preserve old vines rather than pulling up and replanting vines every twenty years.
- The New Zealand wine industry is the gold standard of sustainability with the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050. The Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand program began certifying sustainable vineyards in 1995 and expanded to include wineries in 2002.
To learn more about Tasting Climate Change and this conference see https://tastingclimatechange.com/en/
Janet Dorozynski left life as an academic and has been tasting, judging, teaching & communicating about wine, beer and spirits from across Canada and the world for more than twenty years. She holds the WSET Diploma, a PhD from Concordia University and is a WSET Certified Educator.