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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.

Cheers,

Gabriella

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  • Dave

    Sounds like a great conference, I'm supprised by the number of aussies in attendance. I think Richard Smart might be over simplifying a little with the people power argument. There were also big issues like Industrial relations, bringing the troops back from Iraq and moving away from an ultra conservative, business focus government to something a bit more moderate and focused on average Australians. I'm not saying he's wrong, but it wasn't the primary platform of the new government but one of a few issues that separated the two main parties. We are still to set a target for reduced emissions, no extra money is being spent on R&D or 'green' programs but its early days for the new Government, so heres hoping they do something in the right direction.

  • http://www.tintoyblanco.com.au Dave

    Sounds like a great conference, I’m supprised by the number of aussies in attendance.

    I think Richard Smart might be over simplifying a little with the people power argument. There were also big issues like Industrial relations, bringing the troops back from Iraq and moving away from an ultra conservative, business focus government to something a bit more moderate and focused on average Australians. I’m not saying he’s wrong, but it wasn’t the primary platform of the new government but one of a few issues that separated the two main parties.

    We are still to set a target for reduced emissions, no extra money is being spent on R&D or ‘green’ programs but its early days for the new Government, so heres hoping they do something in the right direction.

  • angela reddin

    The climate change conference was an eye opening and jaw dropping focus on what is now already here and unchangeable, what could happen and how we must start to deal individually with making the best of the now scenario. There will probably be no Arctic icecap in the summer months within 5 years. That, in a time line, is just around the corner. Within the wine world, there will be changes which will need lots of preparation for. The point of this conference was that, as an industry, we have to look for a medium (20 – 50 years) term investment in how we adapt in vineyard production, how we manage our sustainability; particular in water managment, utiise better, cleaner and resuable forms of energy and in many cases change and develop new and existing varieties to suit the shift in conditions. This has to become a global mentality. The people in the wine industry are adaptable, used to climate and vintage variation and possibly are the most suited to embrace this viewpoint.

  • http://ws.arin.net/ angela reddin

    The climate change conference was an eye opening and jaw dropping focus on what is now already here and unchangeable, what could happen and how we must start to deal individually with making the best of the now scenario. There will probably be no Arctic icecap in the summer months within 5 years. That, in a time line, is just around the corner. Within the wine world, there will be changes which will need lots of preparation for. The point of this conference was that, as an industry, we have to look for a medium (20 – 50 years) term investment in how we adapt in vineyard production, how we manage our sustainability; particular in water managment, utiise better, cleaner and resuable forms of energy and in many cases change and develop new and existing varieties to suit the shift in conditions.
    This has to become a global mentality. The people in the wine industry are adaptable, used to climate and vintage variation and possibly are the most suited to embrace this viewpoint.

  • Gabriella

    Dave, To clarify, if I misled you to believe that Richard was implying that conservation was the main divide between the two candidates, then it was my error. From my understanding, it was one of the top three issues that separated the candidates, and one enormously large one that separates the Aussies from the Americans now, as we still have not signed Kyoto. I can only hope that Gore is right when he says that all three current candidates for presidency in the US have all "committed" to conservation. My fingers and toes are crossed. Angela, You couldn't have said it more accurately when you refer to the conference as jaw-dropping. I am in the exact same boat, both agitated and excited for change, and at the same time, a little numb from being overwhelmed with the numbers. I can only hope that we as a global community we will come together to preserve what we already have. And in the meantime, both Ryan and I have committed to do more for conservation in our own lives and through Catavino. Thanks for giving us your thoughts, and please keep them coming!

  • http://www.catavino.net Gabriella

    Dave,

    To clarify, if I misled you to believe that Richard was implying that conservation was the main divide between the two candidates, then it was my error. From my understanding, it was one of the top three issues that separated the candidates, and one enormously large one that separates the Aussies from the Americans now, as we still have not signed Kyoto. I can only hope that Gore is right when he says that all three current candidates for presidency in the US have all “committed” to conservation. My fingers and toes are crossed.

    Angela,

    You couldn’t have said it more accurately when you refer to the conference as jaw-dropping. I am in the exact same boat, both agitated and excited for change, and at the same time, a little numb from being overwhelmed with the numbers. I can only hope that we as a global community we will come together to preserve what we already have. And in the meantime, both Ryan and I have committed to do more for conservation in our own lives and through Catavino. Thanks for giving us your thoughts, and please keep them coming!

  • Miguel

    Gabriela and Ryan Just a little sidenote… Guys!!! You got the geography wrong!!! Essência do vinho will take place in Oporto, not in Lisbon! Oporto sits 300km to the north of Lisbon, and, please, don't mess the two cities. They're quite different (although both have big rivers, Douro in Oporto, and Tagus in Lisbon), and there's a historical rivalry between both (nevermind soccer, the rivalry is pretty fierce, like Barcelona and Madrid…). Maybe we'll bump into each other at Oporto… I might go to Palácio de Cristal…

  • Miguel

    Gabriela and Ryan

    Just a little sidenote…

    Guys!!! You got the geography wrong!!!

    Essência do vinho will take place in Oporto, not in Lisbon! Oporto sits 300km to the north of Lisbon, and, please, don’t mess the two cities.
    They’re quite different (although both have big rivers, Douro in Oporto, and Tagus in Lisbon), and there’s a historical rivalry between both (nevermind soccer, the rivalry is pretty fierce, like Barcelona and Madrid…).

    Maybe we’ll bump into each other at Oporto… I might go to Palácio de Cristal…

  • Gabriella Opaz

    Miguel, You are absolutely correct, and I changed it in the article as well. That was a typo on my part and I REALLY appreciate you steering us in the right direction. Thank you!!

  • http://www.catavino.net Gabriella Opaz

    Miguel,

    You are absolutely correct, and I changed it in the article as well. That was a typo on my part and I REALLY appreciate you steering us in the right direction. Thank you!!

  • Dave

    Hi Gabriella, No problem, as you know nothing in politics is straight forward! It was a big issue (always has been in Aussie politics), but it was all wrapped up in moving away from what was seen to be a Government that followed US Bush administration far too closely (i.e. re-implimenting workers rights, pay and conditions that the previous government had styled on various US ideas, removing troops from Iraq, no action on climate change, welfare and medical reform that was moving too far etc etc). Signing the treating is one thing, actually doing something seem to be another, there has been very little done to date which is disapointing.

  • http://www.tintoyblanco.com.au Dave

    Hi Gabriella,

    No problem, as you know nothing in politics is straight forward! It was a big issue (always has been in Aussie politics), but it was all wrapped up in moving away from what was seen to be a Government that followed US Bush administration far too closely (i.e. re-implimenting workers rights, pay and conditions that the previous government had styled on various US ideas, removing troops from Iraq, no action on climate change, welfare and medical reform that was moving too far etc etc).

    Signing the treating is one thing, actually doing something seem to be another, there has been very little done to date which is disapointing.

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