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II International Conference on Climate Change and Wine Wrap-Up

II International Conference on Climate Change and Wine Wrap-Up

First, I’d like to give you just a quick idea of what the following few weeks will consist of on Catavino. This Sunday, we leave from Barcelona to Rioja for a week long adventure of visiting wineries, horseback riding, museum hopping, and of course, a great deal of eating! Throughout the week, our intention is to keep you up-to-date with a handful videos, some live blogging and a ridiculous amount of pictures. Then, from the 5th-9th of March, we’re off again to an enormous tasting in Oporto, Portugal, called Essencia do Vinho. Located in Palacio da Bolsa, in the very heart of Oporto’s historic district, the programe will include a series of tastings, dinners and bodega visits featuring wines from Quinta de Covela, Quinta do Ameal, Luis Pato, Casa de Cello, Quinta dos Roques, Domingos Alves de Sousa, Adega Cooperativa de Santa marta, Adega Cooperative de Favaios, Uniao de Adega do Dao, Niepoort, Quinta do Crasto, Quinta do Vale D. Maria, Quinta do Vale Meoa and Quinta do Vallado. Tired yet? You best perk up, because following our return, we’ll head over to Alimentaria in Barcelona, where we’ll be checking out food and wine from across Spain.

That said, what are our thoughts on the II International Conference on Climate and Wine? Overall, it was a huge success, mostly as a result of the passion and dedication expressed by people such as Pancho Campo, Richard Smart, Tony Sharley of Banrock Station and Miguel Torres of Bodegas Torres. Interestingly, of everyone who spoke, it was both Tony Sharley and Miguel Torres who blew me away with not only the amount of time and effort they’ve dedicated to sustainable winemaking, but the amount of money they have invested in international programs dedicated toward conservation. It lit my heart on fire because few companies are willing to place the earth as a priority over the bottom line. Oz Clark, being his flirtatious and passionate self, shared his frustration that he’s been harping on the topic of climate change for years and its effect on winemaking, without any tangible results. However, of everyone who spoke at the conference, it was Richard Smart who challenged my way of thinking, forcing me to realize that there are ways even the average Joe can take part preventing climate change.

Richard Smart is a world leader in canopy management and viticulture, who gave a speech on global warming and its impact on vines and viticulture. Throughout his speech, what astounded me the most was not only his emphasis on adaptation, a topic I’ll get into greater depth later this week, but his unwavering stand on swaying your politicians to take action. During both his speeches and his interview with us, he placed power in the citizen’s hands by using the recent Australian elections as an example, where Australians voted for the candidate who placed conservation as their main platform. Taken from the BBC News,

Immediately after the ceremony, he [Mr. Rudd] signed documents to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, reversing the previous administration’s policy.

“This is the first official act of the new Australian government,” he said.

Australia’s new stance on Kyoto will isolate the US as the only developed nation not to have ratified the treaty.

Richard made me realize that change is possible if we’re willing to take a stand, but in the meantime, I sensed he wanted to focus on adaptation to the inevitable.

Obviously, there were several topics brought up by the conference that we intend to get into
depth about in coming days, but I will say that we’re happy we were able to attend. And although I’m highly dubious that wineries will take the necessary steps towards prevention, I know beyond a doubt that we have been infected with the green bug, and will be launching a project of our own in the very near future.

Lastly, I would like to chat about the space the conference was held in. Although I wouldn’t call myself a complete “granola”, although I do have my tendencies, I definitely cannot let the irony slide of choosing an non-eco-friendly hotel. The bathroom in the Hesperia Hotel was stocked with individual paper towels that were thicker than my bathroom towels at home. Okay, so that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you get my point. It’s completely wasteful behavior. Additionally, to turn both on and off the water, you had to trigger its motion sensor. However, because the majority of motion sensors are on a timer, most people walked out of the bathroom leaving the sinks running ad infinitum. Finally, the toilet itself ran for god only knows how long before shutting off. I would also harp on the air conditioning running in the middle of winter, but Pancho had already apologized for this as he had asked for simple ventilation, so I’ll let that go. My point, for the next conference in 2010, is that I hope Pancho will consider making either a change in venue, or a request that the Hesperia Hotel sets an example of practicing conservation.

We’ll be posting articles on specific issues that were brought forth at the conference over the next few days including clips of Al Gore’s key note speech, so please stay tuned.



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