Carbon Management

Carbon Managment

Carbon footprint is an issue in all industries. This is because it gradually but continuously causes damage to the planet that may be irreversible if concrete actions are not taken. And the wine industry is no exception to the rule. For example, did you know that a large part of the carbon footprint of a bottle does not come from its transportation but from the bottle itself? In fact, 46% of the carbon footprint of a glass bottle is generated by its manufacture alone.


This is a problem that the wine industry has been facing for many years, but bottles are not the only cause of this problem:

  • The vineyard is one of the places where a large amount of carbon dioxide is generated. Let's take as an example the case of a typical South Sardinia vineyard. According to a study conducted by Serena Marras, to produce 1 kg of grapes, approximately 0.39 kg of CO2-eq (carbon dioxide equivalent) was generated due to the use of fossil fuels and soil management.
carbon dioxide equivalent
  • Another study by Gierling and Blanke yielded a similar result: in comparison, in a Rhine Valley winery, significantly more carbon was produced in the flat areas (4046 kg CO2 per hectare) than in the steep areas (2990 kg CO2 per hectare). This was mainly due to the use of machinery to work the flat areas, while manual labour was used on the steep areas.
CO2 production
  • Tillage, a prevalent agricultural practice in vineyards, serves a dual purpose for farmers: soil aeration and weed control. By tilling the soil, farmers aim to enhance nutrient and water availability for vines while suppressing weed growth. However, this seemingly beneficial practice bears significant negative consequences for the environment. The two major concerns of tillage are the release of carbon sequestered in the soil and the use of fossil-fuelled machinery. In addition, as the soil is disturbed during the tilling process, carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming. Studies indicate that the global warming potential of tillage ranges between 26 and 31%.
  • Wine transportation is another practice that strongly influences the carbon footprint. It is not the same for a wine to travel 1000 km to reach your table as for a wine to travel only 100 km, especially considering that truck transportation represents only 13% of the total carbon footprint of a wine. But this may be a misnomer as ship and rail transportation have a significantly lower carbon footprint than truck transportation. But this is slowly changing with the electrification of trucks.
truck transportation

What can you do to reduce the carbon footprint of the wine you are going to consume?

Believe it or not, there is one action you can take to greatly reduce this problem: make a more informed decision with sustainability at the core:

  • Transport and Miles Travelled: For example, instead of buying a bottle of wine from a faraway country, why not buy wine from a nearby country? Or, better yet: why not support the local industry, and buy a wine that does not have to travel so many kilometres? But this could also be misleading, marine miles by far have the lowest carbon footprint impact of any transport options.
  • Support Sustainable Practices: Look for wines from wineries that prioritize sustainable and environmentally friendly practices, such as organic or biodynamic farming. For example, pesticides and fertilizers are responsible for a huge part of the GHG emisions during the winemaking process. So, if the wineries you support try to use as less chemical products as possible, the enviromental impact will be reduced.
  • Select Lighter Packaging: Consider the type of material the bottle of wine you will buy is made of. Choose wines packaged in lighter glass bottles or alternative materials like PET, as they generate less carbon emissions during production and transportation. If you cannot find this type of bottle, you can also buy lighter glass bottles, which produce a smaller carbon footprint than the traditional ones. What is worth applauding is that some regulators in Canada, like SAQ in Quebec have stepped in and mandated that bottles do not exceed 480 grams; the AGLC in Alberta has banned the use of clay and ceramic bottles as those are not easily recycable. Finally, you can always try to look for bottles of wine crafted by organic producers: compared to a traditional wine bottle, it can produce a carbon footprint up to 23% lower.
  • Minimize Air Freight: Avoid wines that are air-freighted, as this transportation method has a higher carbon impact compared to ship or rail transportation.
  • Explore Renewable Energy Initiatives: Look for wineries that utilize renewable energy sources to power their operations, reducing their overall carbon emissions.
  • Purchase in Bulk: Consider buying wine in larger quantities or reusable containers to minimize packaging waste and transportation frequency.
  • Practice Responsible Consumption: Enjoy wine responsibly and avoid waste, as disposing of unused wine contributes to its overall carbon footprint.
  • Look for a Third-Party Certification Seal: While not all wineries have access to this type of certification, finding the seal of a third-party certification will always give you greater assurance about the practices used to make that bottle of wine you are holding in your hands.

By making informed and sustainable choices, consumers can play a crucial role in reducing the carbon footprint associated with the wines they enjoy.