As I sit staring at the computer today after 12 hours of constant chat on how global warming is effecting both the earth and the our wines, I’m still reeling with questions and concerns. Granted, I never expected to walk out of the II International Conference on Climate and Wine with all of my questions answered, but I was hoping to leave with a sense of hope and direction. Sadly, I’m just not feeling it.
Our day started with a rather frenetic start, as I failed horrifically in my duty to set the alarm for 6am. Instead, we woke up at 8:00am, completely freaking out, because we were expected to arrive at the conference an hour and a half later, which is not big deal if it didn’t take you that exact same amount of time to travel to your destination. However, by the grace of the Blogger God, we magically arrived at the Hesperia Hotel in Barcelona on the dot with our cameraman, Richard, waiting with a smile and cup of coffee. Albeit a nerve-wracking start, we eventually settled ourselves into our seats with among 350 other people from 36 countries, and began the conference.
To give you a little background, the first International Conference on Climate and Wine two years ago was both considered a major success and a major failure, mainly due to the fact that only 76 people registered for the event. Hence, Pancho Campo, the founder of the conference, lost a considerable amount of money putting the entire conference together with such a low turnout. Yet, he’s is not the type of guy to give up easily, preferring to proceed with a second conference to be scheduled two years later in hopes that by then, there may be a call to action as the temperatures continued to rise and weather becomes increasing more erratic. Obviously, he bet on the right horse, because even this morning, as the sun slowly peaked above the Mediterranean waters, there were still people desperate to sign up moments before the conference began.
The morning began with four speakers, followed by a lunch hosted by Amorim, the largest cork company in the world, and ended at 8pm after nine additional speeches. Outside of the conference stood stands of wineries, primarily from Catalunya, pouring freely at your request. With a few coffee breaks scattered in between, the day was incredibly long, but ran smoothly and without a hitch.
Our Take on the Event:
Prevention versus Adaptation
One of the issues we struggled with from the moment the light’s dimmed and the speakers took to the stage was that adaption to the problem was a major theme. I felt as if I was being hounded with stats telling me that babies being born now will most likely suffer through the worst effects from global warming and that there is little that can be done other than seeking out property that will be of value in the future, often in locations currently without residents or condos. As winters become slightly warmer, spring frosts decrease, summer temperatures soar, water consumption increases and harvests commence earlier, we are at the opportune time to take advantage of these early warning signs by seeking out alternative grape varietals, new real estate and alternative winemaking practices. My question: where was/is the conversation about prevention?
Wineries are Exempt from Global Warming
Walk around the lobby where stands of wineries are excited to share their wines, and suddenly you realize that only a small percentage are actually doing anything to support sustainable winemaking. Of the eight wineries I casually polled, only one mentioned that they were considering looking into water conservation in the future (wineries use a ton of water in the wine making process). The rest shared that they were personally invited by Pancho to serve their wines, but that none of them either practiced sustainable winemaking or believed in sustainable winemaking. To make matters worst only Torres and Banrock Station Winery were actively promoting sustainable winemaking. My question: when are wineries going to see the cost benefit of using sustainable winemaking practices?
Wine Packaging and Distribution
Tetrapak and bag in box wines were the big words swimming around the conference. Richard Smart, the world leader in canopy management and viticulture made it clear that glass was out and tetra pak(basically a specially designed cardboard box) and bag in a box are in, and that anyone who thought otherwise, hadn’t done their research. I intend to talk more on this issue because I think it’s incredibly interesting, but for now, I’d be curious where you stand on the issue.
Green Wineries are Effectively Marketing Themselves
I’ll be the first to admit that Tony Sharley, an Environmental Scientist and Manager of Banrock Station in Australia blew me away with is presentation, simply because his arguements not only seemed logical, but effective. By both researching and investing in: lowering wine transportation costs, catching and recycling rain water, reducing water use, recycled packaging, sponsoring environmental programs, restoring the surrounding landscape, replanting trees and plants on previously destroyed surrounding lands, hiring on-site ecologists, Banrock has seen a direct increase in enotourism, wine quality and revenue. My question: If wineries see a direct link between profit and conservation, will this create a domino effect in the wine industry?
That’s it for now, my bed is calling me as the clock strikes midnight, but if you have any question for us, I’ll be doing some live blogging tomorrow. So please chime in! America will be waking up as we begin lunch and blogging. Send us a twitter question if you have one and we’ll see if we can get it answered. Al Gore will be giving his Keynote at 8pm our time – 1pm CST….Along with all of this, we’re putting together some high quality videos of the event to share.
Gabriella and Ryan
PS: we did and saw a lot more than this. Consider it a short recap, we’ll fill you in on more like a blind tasting led by Michael Rolland and Jaques Lurton..stay tuned!