The Premium Drinks industry finds itself at a crossroads as it looks into a future where it is heavily affected by climate change. Sustainability is non-negotiable for the industry, and it will influence everything from what drinks can be made where to how the industry approaches growing its raw materials. We unpacked this in our webinar, hosted by Positive Luxury co-CEO Diana Verde Nieto, and featuring Château Galoupet’s Jessica Julmy, atmospheric scientist & wine climatologist Dr Gregory V. Jones, Aspen Distillers Founder Dr Matthew Patel and 5Forests Founder & CEO Polly Hammond.
The webinar can be watched in full below, and we have broken down the main points of interest in an executive summary. Positive Luxury’s Future of Premium Drinks Report can be downloaded here.
1. The wine and spirits industry and climate change are intrinsically linked
According to the atmospheric scientist & wine climatologist Gregory V. Jones, all forms of agribusiness are influenced by climate and wine & spirits are no exception. What makes this industry particularly vulnerable is that its products are made from specialty crops or are grown in a special framework and those type of production systems are fragile.
Dr Jones also touched on how this might effect where wine and spirits are created. According to him, ‘changes in climate have been with us for millennia and if you look back in history individuals in small communities and other continents always moved when the climate changed and so moving production systems based upon what the climate will do is pretty common throughout our history.’ However, production systems today are static, meaning that our expectation that certain wines can be produced from the same places will have to change. Instead, we will have to embrace change and understand that climate change will inevitably result in new products being produced in new regions bringing exciting new products to the marketplace.
2. How Château Galoupet transitioned to organic viticulture without sacrificing quality
Jessica Julmy, the Managing Director of Château Galoupet, outlined that one of the main challenges facing the wine and spirits industry when transitioning to organic viticulture is learning to work with nature, rather than trying to control it. In her experience, Château Galoupet had to work with crop experts and agroforestry experts in order to fully understand the land that they were growing on.
There have been unexpected advantages that came out of this process. For example, reducing the amount of pesticides they were using resulted in regenerating the flora and the fauna in the protected woodland that backs onto their vineyard. In turn, this has resulted in bats returning to the woodland. Bats are natural pest eaters who protected their vineyard.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to transitioning to organic viticulture. Instead, brands looking to make this change need to understand that every biome is different and that their solution will be unique to them.
3. The Industry Needs to communicate the importance of soil health to the consumer
According to Polly Hammond, the wine industry has been participating in positive solutions for soil health for years because it is a natural part of their process as an agricultural industry. Where the industry needs to improve is in expressing that to their audiences in a way that puts it in the context for the consumer.
Soil health is of ‘profound’ importance to the industry, but when the spirit or wine lands on a consumer’s table, it’s unclear that so much positive work for sustainability has been done. In Polly’s opinion, it’s essential that we educate consumers on the fragility of wines and spirits so that they come to care about issues like soil health as much as growers do.
4. How the spirit industry can adapt to climate change
Dr Matthew Patel, the Founder at Aspen Distillers sees a holistic approach as being the only way for the spirits industry to adapt to climate change. At Aspen distillers, they have recognized that the spirits industry is an especially consumptive one. In response to that, their focus starts with their growers and runs all the way through to their sourcing and packaging. In his opinion, its essential to make ‘positive impacts at every step’.
Our essential Premium Drinks report explores the social, financial and environmental pillars of sustainability – and how they can translate into practice within the industry. You can receive your complimentary copy here.