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Do you Think Wineries Should Focus on Adaptation, Rather than Prevention? Interview with Richard Smart and Miguel Torres

As we mentioned in one of our first articles debating the merits of the Climate Change and Wine conference, feeling a little frustrated that adaptation was given more weight than prevention, we were left with two predominant voices who appeared to agree that prevention, albeit important, must go hand in hand with adaptation. One Richard Smart, an internationally renowned viticulturalist, suggested that even if we globally cut carbon emissions, it would still take another fifty years before the climate would balance itself out. Hence, he emphasized acceptance toward change, and that we as an industry need to push forward in our research, while investing in adaptive measures now. Some of his suggestions included investing in real estate to ensure a prosperous future, “The warming temperatures are opening up new regions.” These “new” regions lie south of the equator in countries such as Chile, Argentina, Tasmania and New Zealand, where temperature change will be moderate as compared to the northern half of the globe, containing greater land mass and less water to absorb the sun. Cooler and/or higher regions are also worthy of consideration, as is research into varietals that will be better suited to your future regional climate. However, keep in mind that although Richard accepts climate change as inevitable, he also adamantly advocats political activism on behalf of concerned citizens who want to act now.

Miguel Torres, owner of the legendary Spanish winery, Bodegas Torres (podcast with Miguel’s daughter, Mireia) not only agreed wholeheartedly with Richard’s assessment, but has implemented strategic measures to both conserve resources now, while preparing for dramatic changes in the future. Señor Torres made it known that consumption was one of our greatest human faults, driving the climate to change faster than if we used in moderation and shared resources. Hence, he dedicated the first half of his speech to proving that climate change was already in progress, while the second half was dedicated to conservation strategies currently being employed by Torres, as well as their investments towards research on sustainable development. But interestingly, Miguel Torres has been implementing much of Richard Smart’s suggestions for over three decades. He’s bought land in Chili and higher altitudes in Northern Spain. In conjunction with the Catalan Institute of Vines and Wine (INCAVI), Torres has preserved, restored, cataloged and classified over forty different varieties of grape varieties, in part, to prepare for the future. They have installed 12,000 of solar panels, producing 50% of the hot water needs of their bottling plant, and are replacing 115 gas vehicles for hybrid vehicles with minimum fuel consumption. These are all but a few strategies they’ve employed, working diligently to curb their CO2 footprint, while actively promoting both conservation and adaption to wineries around the world.

What we’ve provided below are videos from both Miguel Torres and Richard Smart, who share with us the necessity of curbing our CO2 footprint by adapting to the new reality. Now this is interesting, because to me, if you say the world “adaption”, my feather immediately get ruffled because I feel like we’re accepting global warming without considering preventative measures we can implement now. But through these two pioneers, I’ve reconsidered my stance, thinking that maybe through adaptation, we are inherently employing preventive measures. Water sequestration is not only preventative, but it provides us water when there will be little to go around.

Do you feel that wineries should focus on adaption or prevention?

***As little bird told me that Richard Smart may be listening in. If you have questions, please place them in the comment’s section below.


Video content from the conference was produced by Richard Gillespie please contact us if you are interested in hiring Richard for your next project.

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