This past weekend, I not only had the opportunity to meet some incredibly important people in the wine industry, but I also was able to understand how climate change will affect wineries both today and well into the future. Led by Pancho Campo, a man with an environmental mission, I was excited to see his enthusiasm and passion for this subject. What I also appreciated was his frank, pragmatic nature. Talk to Pancho and you will never hear that the sky is falling or that doom and gloom is right around the corner for the wine industry. Instead, you will encounter someone who acknowledges change is near, and regardless if you believe him or not, you will be effected. This is why I felt very disappointed by the lack of participation by Spanish wineries. Though we had a few Spanish climate experts speak, and Pancho himself is Spanish, the only voice that really stood out was that of Miguel Torres. Sure there were some Spanish wineries pouring their wines outside the conference during our breaks and at lunchtime, but very few. And of those handful of Spanish wineries that attended, when asked, “What are you doing about climate change”, answered, “nothing”. Now to be fair, there were wineries representing four to five different countries, and some of the these wineries had the same response; but seriously, if you’re going to pour wine at a Climate Change and Wine conference, I would think you might have a better answer than, “nothing”.
All this aside, what was even more shocking and disappointing was the lack of representation from Spain’s wine regions and historic wineries. Not one person I saw or spoke to was from Rioja or Ribera del Duero. Both of these regions are icons of Spanish wine, and at the same time, areas that are being effected as we speak by the early signs of climate change. Put all the climate talk aside, shove it in a box and seal it, and just look at the conference itself for a minute. From a marketing standpoint, this is the dumbest move in media relations one can imagine. I’ve set up Google alerts on the topic of climate change and wine for over a week, and as of right now, I have over 50+ news stories in newspapers, blogs and other media outlets. The cost to have shown up and made yourself known would have been so out weighed by the amount of press you would have garnered. We know that these people were invited, so why didn’t they show?
Who did show? Catalunya? Should I make a political statement about this and say that Catalunya is more forward thinking on climate change, or just point out the fact that it took place in Catalunya, so therefore it was easy for wineries to be involved. Probably the answer lies in the middle. There is one point that I think is worth mentioning. Torres is a name wine lovers the world round know well. Sangre de Toro is probably one of the most recognized brand names in Spanish wine today. Apart from this, Torres has been a leader, and at times, a rebel in the world of wine. Miguel Torres, in 1979, was one of the first to invest in Chile as a wine growing region, and today, owns property in China and many other regions as well. Maybe this pioneering spirit is the reason that they were one of the only ones to have attended and spoken at the conference. And Miguel made it known during his speech that they have invested over 5 million euros towards research and development of new technologies, and has set a personal goal and challenge to other wineries to cut their emissions by 50%. Through technologies like solar energy, hybrid cars, capturing CO2 during fermentation and storing it, capturing rain water, and replanting forests, he hopes to take his winery into this new future.
To this, I say “Thank you Miguel”. I also hope that the Torres vision is not too far in front of the rest of Spain’s wineries. I would like to see others look to what this emblematic winery is doing, and take up the fight against climate change too no matter how small the effort. Small changes made by large numbers can yield great results. I just hope that these changes come before it’s too late.
Enjoy the videos below. We edited them to reflect our experience, and we hope that you enjoy them for what they are.
Video content from the conference was produced by Richard Gillespie. Please contact us if you are interested in hiring Richard for your next project.