COP26: Oregon takes the lead in global wine sustainability
As Glasgow gets ready to host COP26 UN Climate Summit following its hottest summer on record, the need for a global response to the climate crisis could not be clearer. In the US, Oregon winemakers are doing their part and setting new standards in environmentally friendly winemaking.
Oregon’s wine industry is just 60 years old but is already leading the industry both for the quality of its wine and winemakers’ dedication to sustainability. Vineyards are setting ambitious zero-emissions goals, rewilding land and experimenting with innovative packaging.
Some wineries are using autonomous, electric tractors that can even predict when it will rain, while others have returned to farming exclusively with animals. When it comes to packaging, natural wax closures are being used as an alternative to tin screwcaps, while at some vineyards pouches made from recycled materials are replacing glass.
Supported by the state of Oregon, which has adopted the nation’s most protective land-use policies, winemakers are leading the change they want to see in the industry.
Sustainable Oregon wines in the UK
Many of Oregon’s eco-friendly wines are available to purchase in the UK. Discover how they’re leading the way in sustainable winemaking:
Certified organic and biodynamic, Brick House Vineyard is a vineyard and working farm that composts all natural wastes from grape residues to garden cuttings. It is also part of the Deep Roots Coalition, encouraging other wineries to embrace non-irrigation agricultural techniques.
In the 1990s, the Lett family allowed native flora flourished alongside the The Eyrie Vineyards, creating a natural, healthy ecosystem. Today, the land has never been ploughed or fertilised, with nature doing a spectacular job of nurturing the vines, so the winemakers can produce excellent, organic wines.
World-renowned atmospheric scientist and wine climatologist Dr Greg Jones was named CEO at his family winery this summer. Already a Charter member of the Carbon Neutral Challenge with a science-led approach to sustainable winemaking, that dedication to data-led sustainability will be continued by Dr Jones.
The name says it all. This vineyard is part of a 70-acre farm, where free-range hens, pasture-raised pigs and goats, and grass-fed cows are all part of the vineyard’s novel approach to land use, creating a holistic farm environment to avoid monoculture.
Not only did the Jackson family found International Wineries for Climate Action, they have also launched their ambitious climate action plan. It includes slashing their carbon footprint in half by 2030 and becoming climate positive by 2050.
Left Coast Estate
Organic, biodynamic and committed to using solar power as well as establishing a 100-acre oak restoration project, Left Coast has also embraced creative initiatives such as using thinner glass in its bottles to cut transport emissions.
Oregon lawmakers passed an ambitious 1889 law prohibiting the pollution of waters from livestock and farming, leading the way in protecting natural landscapes. The 1973 Senate Bill 100 placed restrictions on urban sprawl and much of that land is now home to premier vineyards. And today landowners are taking the lead with agreements such as the Oak Accord, a promise to protect and restore the native oak habitat on their properties in the Willamette Valley.
As COP26 sets new targets for action on climate change, Oregon winemakers are proud to be leading the way in sustainability.