Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Carbon Neutral Wine from Chile At Your Doorstep

While shopping at my local liquor store last week, my eye was drawn to a grouping of wine bottles adorned with light green tags that read "drink green! CarbonNeutral delivery." The tags were on bottles of wine from the Chilean Cono Sur Winery, a 2007 Voignier. Being a tree-hugger, I was immediately excited. The reverse-side of the tag informed me that the Cono Sur Winery "has been a pioneer of organic wine production in Chile," and that "In order to help prevent the increase in global warming, Cono Sur has taken its environmental performance to a whole new level, by becoming the first winery in the world to obtain CarbonNeutral delivery status." I happen to be a fan of voigniers. The varietal and low price of the wine ($9.95), as well as the environmental claims of the winery easily persuaded me to purchase it. Impressed and encouraged by this discovery of environmental stewardship in the aisles of my neighbourhood LCBO, I walked around looking for more of the green tags, to see if there were any other green wine choices. At this particular LCBO outlet, there weren't, although the LCBO does offer other Cono Sur products at other outlets throughout Ontario.

The Cono Sur Voignier was only the second example of a voignier that I've tried, but it had the characteristic mix of tartness and mellowness that I now expect from that varietal, a cross between an oaky chardonnay, and a crisp, clean pinot grigio which I find to my liking. While enjoying my wine, I visited the Cono Sur winery website. Located outside of Santiago, Chile, it has only been producing wine since 1993, but has won awards and high scores for its wines since 2003. Their motto is "No family trees, no dusty bottles, just quality wine." The Winery's vision includes strong environmental stewardship. In 2002 it earned the ISO 14001 environmental audit certification, and now it has earned CarbonNeutral delivery status. According to its website:
Cono Sur becomes the first winery in the world to achieve global CarbonNeutral delivery status on all its global exports of Cono Sur and Isla Negra wines. This status means that CO2 emissions from the shipping of Cono Sur wines have been measured and balanced to net zero through high quality greenhouse gas emissions reduction projects. Cono Sur has decided to support mainly renewable energy projects.
While I am still trying to completely wrap my head around the tricky concept of carbon offsetting (a ripe topic for a future post), I am satisfied that the Cono Sur Winery is doing its best not to pollute, both through it's commitment to organic farming, and its participation in CarbonNeutral programs. Such responsibility should be applauded and rewarded; it's good for absolutely everyone! Furthermore, carbon neutral shipping is an especially shrewd strategy for a winery. Without a doubt, the progressive stewards of Cono Sur Winery are well-aware of the pressure on environmentally conscious consumers to choose local wines over imports due to the pollution associated with international shipping. Cono Sur's products arguably have potentially less harmful environmental impacts than local wines sold on the home turf of wine producing regions around the world. I predict that this benefit will give Cono Sur a huge edge in the marketplace of green consumerism, especially if all their wines are as good as the voignier that I tasted. Other wineries with ambitions to export (don't they all?) would be smart to follow suit and hop on the carbon neutral band wagon. This could be the beginning of a new green marketing trend. Let's hope so!

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