Modern wineries are attempting to gain competitive advantage by becoming sustainable and organic. Certified if it can he helped. Green issues and health matters have crept into consumers buying decisions over the years and wineries are working hard to tick all the right boxes in order to lower any barriers we might potentially face when making that final buying decision.
Trying to stand out from a very crowded marketplace is one thing, but now decarbonising is becoming a matter of economic survival, as I discussed here. Still, more than ever, there are tons of quality wines out there, almost too much to choose from. Not a bad headache to have when we’re making our buying decisions.
One of our newest range of wines come from Dominio del Plato in Mendoza, Argentina. They’re a great example to the wine industry and beyond. Here’s some of the things they have been doing to become more eco-friendly and socially responsible, whilst reducing costs in key areas.
Sustainably grown grapes
Avoid as much as possible the use of pollutants that harm the environment and deplete the soils, such as toxic-synthetic fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides and genetically modified organisms. Due to high elevation and sun exposure, low rainfalls and dry soils, the vineyards are unlikely to develop diseases, but if they ever do, they can be controlled using organic products.
Natural resources conservation
Melted water runs off from the Andes mountain range and given Mendoza’s desert-like climate, water is extremely valuable. Drip irrigation is favoured instead of the traditional flood irrigation. It allows for the proper management of a very scarce and important resource.
Protection of agricultural land
To be sustainable, you must give back everything you take from the land. All the pruning leftovers are put back into the vineyard between the rows to improve soil fertilisation and structure. The indigenous grass that grows between the rows is mowed and left to decompose naturally on the soil. With more organic matter the soils are enriched and erosion prevented.
ISO 14.001 certification
The winery is currently working towards obtaining the ISO 14.001 certification which deals with environmental management. Its purpose is to continually reduce the impact of business practices on the
environment. A systematic approach is implemented to set environmental objectives and targets, to achieve them, and to demonstrate how they were achieved. So they won’t just be talking to talk.
Bottle weight reduction
The weight of all bottles used by the winery has been decreased by 100 grams on average (from 590 grams to 490 grams) from the vintage 2010. More and more wineries are doing this as part of their efforts to reduce their carbon footprint. The load is lighter, saving fuel during transit, and less energy is used during production of the bottles.
Lower energy consumption
Electronics, such as heaters and computers, have been upgraded to newer energy saving units. All the light bulbs in the winery have also been replaced with lower energy consumption counterparts.
The water used to clean the winery facilities (stainless steel tanks, floors, catwalks, barrels, etc) is treated at a recycling plant in the winery and then reused. All the cardboard boxes, ruled out bottles and nylons are recyclable, and sold to recycling plants.
ISO 22.000 Certification
Dominio del Plata is one of the few wineries in Argentina that possess the ISO 22000 certification, which was developed by the International Organisation for Standardisation to recognise high quality practices within food safety. Measures are taken to ensure traceability on all products and strict procedures are in place to keep the winery hygienic and contamination free.
As well as the professional development of their employees, the winery has a keen interest in the local community, sponsoring and supporting local organisations and respecting fair trade policies, ensuring that where grapes are sourced, farmers are paid fairly for their produce. With the financial support of Dominio del Plata, an elementary and primary school is to be built to help more children have access to good education. Longer term objectives include building an oenology university in Agrelo, where the winery is based.