How to make the wine journey more sustainable

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A recent poll found that 65% of those polled have missed travel so much in the past year that they would be willing to ditch social media for a month for a safe vacation. For those who favor green travel, there are countless on-screen and off-screen considerations needed to plan a wine trip.

Travelers with sustainability goals should “consider every step of the way,” says Liz Thach, MW, author and professor of wine at Sonoma State University.

As tourism picks up around the world, wine lovers have the opportunity to slow down and rethink the way they travel. Whether it’s transportation, hotels, wineries, restaurants, and even frequented shops, no service combines sustainable choices for wine lovers. So here’s how to make wine travel choices that you and future generations can live with.

Blubird Box at Honig Vineyard & Winery / Photo courtesy of Honig Vineyard & Winery

Transport

Thach suggests renting a hybrid or electric vehicle for road trips. Sustainable Wine Tours in Santa Barbara will even drive you in a Tesla.

For flights, look for carbon offset programs, where travelers pay to “offset” or offset emissions produced by flights. Programs include World Land Trust, backed by naturalist Sir David Attenborough, and Gold Standard, which allows clients to contribute to programs such as reforestation in Nicaragua or potable water in Rwanda.

A growing number of cities are offering bike sharing programs, Thach explains, while popular bike tours in wine regions include MountNBArrel in Hood River, Oregon, and East End Bike Tours on Long Island, New York. Some places offer robust train systems, such as the one between Paris and Bordeaux.

Reusable

Do you buy bottled water? Carry a reusable collapsible container like the Hydaway or the Nomader, or a flat collapsible Vapur.

Single-use coffee cups are as much of a problem as plastic bottles, so bring a Stojo or a Hunu, and even this Tayama collapsible kettle for the brewer on the go.

Recycled or organic cotton bags are easy to pack. Take them to wineries to cut down on single-use plastic bags.

Accommodation

Look for wine properties dedicated to environmental principles and use due diligence when researching them. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) properties are considered the gold standard in green building strategies such as energy efficiency. However, some have been accused of overstating the environmental achievements, so look at the properties individually.

In Napa Valley, for example, Bardessono has achieved Platinum certification, and a review of its credentials shows a host of ambitious initiatives such as solar and geothermal energy infrastructure, salvaged building materials, processing and gray and black water recycling, low flow water fixtures, and native and drought tolerant landscaping.

Subime Comporta Portugal Regenerating Travel
Subime Comporta, Portugal / Photo by Nelson Garrido / Regenerative Travel

Regenerative Travel highlights properties that seek to improve the environment and the surrounding community. Co-founder Amanda Ho has controlled resorts and hotels, including two in the wine region.

The Oasy hotel in Tuscany occupies a former hunting lodge in a nature reserve, and the Sublime Comporta, on the coast of Portugal, grows food in its garden, partners with fishermen and farmers in the community and recycles the waters. waste, among its low impact and solidarity initiatives.

Vineyards and ecotourism

The ultimate way to align your values ​​and your portfolio is to sponsor regions and wineries that demonstrate their commitment to sustainable, organic and / or biodynamic agriculture. More than 99% of Sonoma County’s wineries are certified sustainable, says Karissa Kruse, president of the Sonoma County Winegrowers business group.

“I’ve heard from consumers, wine enthusiasts and even our local community say that it feels good to be part of the ongoing sustainability and climate movement. [here], says Kruse.

Sonoma County Winegrowers has partnered with several wineries to create self-guided vineyard walks that showcase sustainability practices, which it highlights on its website.

The demand for nature hikes and educational eco-tours has increased, although most of the world’s tourist office sites have not caught up. It is often easier to find “recommendations of cellars suitable for dogs and children than ecological wine tourism activities”, explains Thach.

Mom Adam Camp
Camp Mama Adam, Portugal / Photo courtesy of Camp Mama Adama

Find sustainable, organic, and / or biodynamic wineries in the area you want to visit, then check their websites for eco tours. Slow Wine, an annual guide offered by Slow Food, recommends wineries that meet criteria such as wine quality, respect for the terroir, value for money and environmental sensitivity. It offers comprehensive listings for Italy, Slovenia, California, Oregon, and plans to offer similar picks for New York and Washington soon.

In California, Benziger offers one of the most famous eco-tours. The company created its Tribute Estate Tour & Tasting “so that guests can have a real experience of how biodynamics occurs in the vineyard,” says Chris Benziger, brand ambassador. “When they are immersed in the experience, they rediscover the power of nature. They have an ‘a-ha!’ moment that’s what agriculture is.

The 90-minute tour, limited to groups of eight, costs $ 60 per person and explores the vineyards of the Sonoma Mountain estate, followed by an outdoor tasting of four biodynamic wines.

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Regina Weinstein, director of marketing and retail for Honig Vineyard & Winery in Napa, says consumers “love, love, love” her eco tours. For $ 45, an Honig guide takes guests around the vineyard to learn about bird nesting boxes, beehives, owl perches and water management strategies, as well as Honig’s role in restoration. of the Rutherford section of the Napa River.

“Eco tours are particularly popular now,” Weinstein explains. “Visitors of the young generation are the most concerned by the environmental impact of the companies they support.

Habitat restoration has played a key role at Jordan Winery. CEO and owner John Jordan read articles about the dwindling western monarch population, which inspired the company to create a pollinator sanctuary along its four-mile Vineyard Hike trails ($ 110 per person) .

“We know that many pollinators have lost their habitat to forest fires over the past five years,” Jordan said. “We felt like we had the ground … and the will to do something.”

So far, the estate says it has planted 10 acres of sanctuaries with 102 species of plants, which are home to at least 60 species of butterflies and moths. When the Earth Week hikes were announced in April, they sold out in less than an hour, said Lisa Mattson, Jordan’s director of marketing and communications.

In Oregon, Knudsen Vineyards, certified Low Input Viticulture and Oenology (LIVE) and Salmon Safe, offers a guided vineyard hike followed by lunch and tasting ($ 65 / person).

Sustainable Wine Tours Santa Barbara
Sustainable Wine Tours welcomes a group in Santa Barbara / Photo courtesy of Sustainable Wine Tours

Restoration and rewilding

Consider a rewilding day, where you restore an area to its uncultivated state, or visit an ecosystem restoration camp to increase the positive impact of your travels.

Rewild Europe, a conservation group that restores and protects natural processes and wilderness across the continent, has ongoing efforts near wine regions in Portugal, Italy, Germany, Moldova, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria.

In the great Côa Valley in Portugal, the Wild Côa network presents an association of sustainable companies that promote responsible, educational and cultural trips, such as the A2Z walking and cycling routes in Portugal and Casas do Juízo, a rural village surrounded by vineyards. .

To raise awareness of rewilding efforts, Symington Family Estates launched a new wine packaged in a recyclable bag-in-tube container. He indicates that part of the proceeds is donated to the Rewilding Portugal initiative.

Ecosystem Restoration Camps offer both pop-up days and multi-day camps.

In 2018, the California camp fire devastated 153,336 acres, destroyed more than 18,000 structures and killed 85 people. The Campfire Restoration Project, also known as Camp Paradise, was started after the fire to support reforestation and the community around the town of Paradise. At one event, campers helped locals restore scorched land, and organizers taught new skills and shared resources such as native trees better suited to fire.

Most overnight camps have closed during the pandemic, but many are slowly reopening, with several on the horizon for Australia, Portugal, Spain and France. Camp Mama Adama in Alentejo, for example, hires campers to restore trees affected by a fungus. Activities range from cleaning and replanting new trees to working in the garden, sunrise meditations are offered in the morning and local wine is served in the evening.


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