International luxury circles are passionately discussing sustainable wine in this pandemic. But is it even a thing? LuxeBook tries to understand the concept in the Indian context.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has reiterated the need for sustainable products and living. To go green is a global and all-important agenda. Even wine lovers have been looking for more sustainable options, even though the wine industry is one of the least polluting sectors. In the last couple of years, the demand for organic and biodynamic wines has witnessed growth.
And now wine enthusiasts are discussing sustainable wines. The question, however, is what is sustainable wine? Is it even a thing? Is there any wine out there which is 100 per cent sustainable? Magandeep Singh, Sommelier & Founder, Institute of Wine & Beverage Studies (IWBS) decodes the hotly debated topic in the Indian context.
“Sustainable winemaking is a larger movement across the world, and winemakers, in general, are trying to be sustainable, but there is no such thing as sustainable wines,” says Singh. It is the winemaking process that must be sustainable.
He adds that wine, as a product should always be sustainable, it is all about how it is made. It started with organic wine, which propagated the idea of scrapping the use of chemical fertilisers. Then came in biodynamic wines, which excluded the use of
other chemical compounds.
Next was natural wines, which roughly refers to wines made without adding any additives, chemicals, filtering or even cultured yeasts. As of today, we have certifications for organic, biodynamic and natural wines but not sustainable wines. Sustainable winemaking is about the process, a green process that ensures that the land where the grapes are grown can sustain itself for at least the next hundred years.
“The Indian wine industry is still at a nascent stage, hence, sustainable winemaking is just a small fragment of it. India still has a long way to go. Abroad, New Zealand, Australia and the US have seen a rise in sustainable winemaking,” says Sonal Holland, India’s only Master of Wine. In the Indian winemaking business, Sula Vineyards has been championing the sustainable movement, for over a decade now. The brand has proven that sustainability and profits can, both, be achieved at the same time.
We spoke to Karan Vasani, Senior Vice President and Chief Winemaker, Sula Vineyards, to understand Sula’s sustainable ways of working.
Please elaborate on Sula’s sustainable wine-making process?
We are all part of the same ecosystem and so even though the wine business is not leading to a lot of pollution, it is always a good decision to be eco-friendly. Plus, in the times of global warming, it’s something we think is necessary and is also the duty of a responsible citizen. The best way for us to be sustainable is to use solar energy. In the calendar year 2018, 49 per cent and in the financial year 2019-2020, 54 per cent of the electricity we consumed was solar-powered. We have been using water more efficiently and have installed a rainwater harvesting setup. In the wineries and vineyards, the taps have a low flow head and the hallways have censor-based lights. We ensure that in the entire process of growing grapes and harvesting it, nothing is wasted. The seeds of the grapes and other such organic waste is used as organic manure. We manufacture lightweight wine bottles to lessen the environmental impact of glass-making. Unfortunately, it is a misconception that the heavier the bottle, the better the quality of its wine. Even the packaging of the bottles and the bottles are recyclable.
What kind of growth do you foresee in the next five years?
The fundamental factors driving wine consumption, even in the current scenario, have not changed. Sure, the business is hurting currently, but in the long-run, it looks positive. The past few months have been extremely difficult due to the lockdown, which has substantially affected the sales. This might continue for a bit, but very soon, we expect double-digit growth.