LODI RULES Releases New Edition, a Database Shares Cover Crop Knowledge
Foil closures may soon be optional for UK sparkling producers
Tractor innovations make the news this week - New Holland has released one designed to use on-site cow manure as a fuel source, while Decanter spotlights electric, autonomous Monarch tractors. A searchable database from California on cover crop expertise, LODI RULES, the sustainability certification releases its fourth edition. Remy Wines in Oregon pioneers a carbon sequestering concrete.
California: UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, UC Cooperative Extension, the Napa Resource Conservation District, and the Community Alliance with Family Farmers have created a searchable database of orchard and vineyard growers experienced in growing cover crops that will help other growers bring the benefits of the practice to their operations. Morning Ag Clips
The database includes wine grapes and is searchable by county as well as other parameters. It can be accessed here.
US: USDA climate smart AG grant has funded a five-year, $2 million soil carbon inventory project for fine wine producers. Wine Business
In 2022 the USDA awarded $3.1 billion to 141 recipients to jumpstart shifts it says will sequester as much as 60 million metric tons of carbon.
The federal government’s Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program awarded two rounds of funding, including 70 big budget projects–ranging from $5 million to $95 million–and 71 smaller grants with budgets under $5 million.
One $20 million grant, organized by The Soil Inventory Project (TSIP), includes $2 million that will go to winery producers to inventory soil carbon over a five year period.
The project was initiated in partnership with Jackson Family Wines, which had previously worked with TSIP. The nonprofit it co-founded, International Wineries for Climate Action (IWCA), wrote the grant proposal, bringing IWCA member wineries and their growers into the project as eligible participants.
The remaining $18 million in the TSIP grant will inventory soils on 120,000 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat, row crops, and other specialty crops across the country. The project aims to reduce the cost of sampling for soil carbon.
California: Decanter spotlights industry darling Monarch tractor’s first release last month.
In 2018, Carlo Mondavi (grandson of Robert Mondavi) and a group of engineers founded the electric tractor company Monarch. The aim was to produce a fully electric, self-driven, smart tractor that could allow farmers, not just wine growers, to move away from the use of herbicides.
The challenges facing farms and vineyards include skilled labor shortages and profitability. The response historically has been through chemicals, including the herbicide glyphosate or Roundup. It has been reported that 95% of spraying on farms is missing its target.
The Monarch tractor is a zero-emission option; equipped with mapping technology and, once programmed, can carry out farm operations without a driver (currently illegal in California).
The Monarch also comes with technology that allows farmers to improve their use of conventional farming, like spraying accuracy to within two centimeters of the target.
Monarch can also serve as a generator, with the ability to power a small farm, a conventional three-bedroom American home, or a small village in developing countries.
Global: New Holland Agriculture has announced a new tractor designed to run on fuel created on-site using cow manure. News Atlas
The T7 Methane Power LNG offers the same power and torque as a diesel tractor.
The system works roughly like this: farmers collect as much cow poop as possible as a slurry, and instead of directly using it as fertilizer, they pump it into large tanks, or covered lagoons. Anaerobic organisms break it down and produce a biogas that contains mainly methane.
This gas is collected and purified into biomethane, which can be used around the farm wherever natural gas would normally be used. Or, it can be compressed and liquefied into LNG, or liquefied natural gas, which needs to be kept in cryogenic tanks at -162 °C (-260 °F). This can be sold off as a product, or used directly to run specially tailored engines. The solid remainder of the waste is used as fertilizer.
According to a 2018 study in Applied Energy, producing and selling biomethane only begins to make sense economically with more than about 3,600 head of cattle, due to the expensive equipment needed for the purification and liquefaction of the biogas.
UK partner Bennamann has a solution in the form of mobile equipment that can travel from farm to farm, periodically converting captured biogas to LNG. The company also sells the cryogenic tank systems needed to keep the LNG at temperature.
UK: An EU law requiring all sparkling wine bottles “sheathed in foil completely covering the stopper and all or part of the neck” is expected to be sunsetted in the UK, who no longer needs to comply with EU regulations. The Drinks Business
Should the overturning of the law go ahead, it is expected to save English wineries between 10p and 50p in production costs for every bottle of sparkling wine made.
The European Parliament acknowledged in 2020 that: “The foil does not have any other functional characteristics and is usually removed and thrown away immediately prior to consumption of the wine.”
However, unlike in still wine packaging where the foil capsule serves little purpose, some argue it does serve a purpose in sparkling whose contents are under pressure, adding a layer of protection to the cork, reduces likelihood of damage and tampering; while others point to consumer appeal.
Europe: The EU Commission's strict plans to ban the use of plant protection products (per the EU plant protection products are 'pesticides' that protect crops or desirable or useful plants) in certain protected areas are now off the table in their original form. Meininger’s Wine Business International
According to a leaked draft the "Nature Restoration Law" it calls for plant protection to be severely restricted or banned in certain vulnerable areas.
It also proposed to allow plant protection in the most prone areas, and thus widespread viticulture - but only certified organic.
UK: The UK government has announced a ban on single-use plastics in hospitality and on-trade venues in England. The Drinks Business
Set to come into effect October 2023, industry surveys have reported widespread approval, with many saying it has come later than it should have.
The ban is said to impact single-use plastic plates, trays, bowls, cutlery, balloon sticks, and certain types of polystyrene cups and food containers.
McMinnville, Oregon: Remy Wines’ new winery, built to be as sustainable as possible, employs a custom made carbon sequestering concrete. Capitol Press
Partnering with a team of researchers and developers, founder and winemaker Remy Drabkin used the concrete inside the 5,000-square-foot winery. She estimates her building's slab offsets about 5 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
Initially, the team was interested in making a more eco-friendly concrete by using biochar — carbonized organic material made by heating biomass in an oxygen-free environment, a process known as pyrolysis.
Drabkin approached John Mead, of Vesuvian Forge in McMinnville, about coming up with a formulation. Mead contacted Wilsonville Concrete, and they began testing different formulas working with Lafarge Labs in Seattle and Bioforcetech Corp. in San Francisco. They ultimately determined that using municipal waste as a feedstock for pyrolysis, with its abundance of heavy metals, made for a stronger concrete.
The final product has been dubbed the "Drabkin-Mead Formulation," and led to the creation of a new Oregon-based business named Solid Carbon.
Lodi, California: The Lodi Winegrape Commission announced the fourth edition of its sustainability certification program, LODI RULES. Press Release via Wine Business
The update includes 35 new farming practice standards, bringing the total count to over 150.
Originally accredited in 2005 by Protected Harvest, the LODI RULES standards are organized into six chapters: Business Management, Human Resources Management, Ecosystem Management, Soil Management, Water Management, and Pest Management.
The revised standards are again third-party accredited, and vineyards are certified and audited on an annual basis.
The program has grown from 1,555 acres in 2005 to nearly 70,000 acres across 14 California crush districts, Washington, and Israel.
Lancaster, PA: The Eastern Winery Exposition has announced a sustainable & organic viticulture full-day workshop at its annual event taking place in Lancaster, PA in mid-March. Press Release via Wine Business
The workshop will include a session titled ‘Organic Winemaking and Organic Viticulture in the East’, featuring winegrower and proprietor Karl Hambsch of Loving Cup Vineyard in Virginia, the only certified organic grape grower and winemaker in that state.
Monterey, California: Scheid Family Wines announces the national debut of Grandeur Wines, a certified organic brand. Press Release via Wine Business
Certified by California Certified Organic Farmers, White Flower Vineyard is in the southernmost foothills of the Santa Lucia Range in the Hames Valley AVA.
By harvest of 2023, the business is set to have over 500 certified organic acres.
Europe: Ardagh Glass Packaging is on track to reduce water usage by one-third across its 20 European sites. Glass International
The Closed Loop Water Cooling Process in Limmared, Sweden has delivered a 66% reduction in surface water usage compared with 2021. This was achieved by installing a two-step, closed loop, air and water-cooling system, air has replaced water which was previously taken from the nearby river, to cool the production process.
The Water Reduction Project in Ujscie, Poland delivered a 25% reduction in water usage compared with 2021. This was achieved using independent closed loop systems were installed for clean and dirty water, in place of local groundwater, to cool the IS machines.
Milan, Italy: Guala Closures Group, a manufacturer of aluminum and specialty closures, announced that its 2030 Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission targets have been validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) as meeting the 1.5°C target. Press Release via Wine Business
The Group has committed to science-based targets to reduce absolute scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions 44% by 2030, from a 2020 base year.
They has also committed to reduce scope 3 GHG emissions from purchased goods and services, and fuel and energy related activities, by 25% per million manufactured closures, within the same timeframe.
The Group has already reduced its GHG emissions in 2021 on Scope 1 and 2 intensities by 40% from the 2016 base year.
Global: Decanter publishes a tasting report on bag-in-box wines; they blind tasted more than 70 samples.
Key findings include: whites generally performed better than reds, while the reasoning for the report notes higher quality and higher priced wines available in this format, they found 40% of the wines to be “disappointingly commercial – the worst unbalanced, overly confected and one-dimensional.”
US: The Agriculture Department has issued new requirements for foods labeled organic, a move aimed at cracking down on fraud and boosting oversight. AP
The rule strengthens enforcement of the USDA’s strict definitions of organic, which must rely on “natural substances and physical, mechanical or biologically based farming methods to the fullest extent possible.”
The rule requires USDA’s National Organic Program certification for all imported organic food, increases certifications of more businesses in the supply chain and boosts authority for inspections, record-keeping, traceability and fraud prevention practices.
Italy: An in depth piece by Aldo Fiordelli in Decanter on how climate change has impacted several key regions in Italy and how producers are adapting.
Examples include: in Piemonte Gaja is building a winery in Alta Langa, investing in new higher-altitude vineyards predominantly for white varieties; in Alto Adige Martin Foradori Hofstätter planted Pinot Noir in 2019 at about 850m ‘surrounded by the Dolomites’ at a density of almost 10,000 vines per hectare, in order to preserve a tense and classic style.
Hofstätter’s log book; which notes dates of bud break, flowering, veraison and harvest from 1990 to 2022, has shown harvests dates getting progressively earlier, but bud break did not – until 2007/2008 – a sign of warmer winters.
Diversity & Equity
Global: Wine Enthusiast has published a guide to black owned wine brands around the world.
According to Bloomberg, only 0.1% of the entire wine industry in the U.S. in 2020 was Black-owned.
In 2021, News-Press reported that only .06% of wineries were Black-owned and a 2019 survey of wine-industry professionals found that only 2% of respondents identified as Black or African.
The list, which skews heavily toward the US, is searchable by region/country.
UK: Michel Reybier Hospitality announced it is creating a new Golden Vines® Scholarship in partnership with EHL Hospitality Business School (EHL), a hospitality management school, the Gérard Basset Foundation (GBF) and Liquid Icons (LIP). Press Release via Wine Industry Advisor
It will allow a Person of Color (BAME/BIPOC) to undertake EHL’s Master of Science HES-SO in Hospitality Management.
Tuition is on-site at EHL’s campus in Lausanne (Switzerland), and the entire MSc runs over three semesters.
UK: A spotlight on Curious Vines and its founder Queena Wong, who The Gerard Bassett Foundation has awarded a Master of Wine support funding program to help female candidates taking the exam. The Buyer.net
Women working in the wine industry can join the community at any time – they just need to send an email with where they work and job title and they have to believe in the female space understanding to use it as a platform, contributing to it or giving support to others.