Making and marketing wine requires lots of energy. Producing and transporting glass bottles (empty and full), cooling wineries and warehouses, running tractors in vineyards, sanitizing fermentation tanks and barrels all consume considerable amounts of electricity, fuel and water.
Some wineries are taking substantial measures to reduce the environmental impact of all that energy use.
Jackson Family Wines began auditing its energy and water use and carbon footprint in 2008. The family-owned company includes 40 wineries — the Kendall-Jackson and La Crema lines are the best known — in California, Oregon, France, Italy, Australia, Chile and South Africa. Total annual production is about 5 million bottles.
Katie Jackson, senior vice president for corporate and social responsibility, described her company’s efforts during a climate change symposium at Vinexpo in Bordeaux in May, and subsequently in an interview.
The company began installing solar panels on winery roofs in 2012, and now produces 7.1 megawatts of electricity each year, a third of its electricity needs. Jackson said the company will install more solar panels to capture an additional 3 to 4 megawatts by the end of next year to achieve its goal of being self-reliant for 50% of its energy needs.
Other efforts include using ultraviolet light instead of water to sanitize fermentation tanks, wind power instead of water for frost protection, installing cooling towers for barrel rooms and capturing rainwater. The company has reduced water use by 60%, averaging 29 million gallons saved annually since 2008.
Perhaps the greatest impact came from reducing bottle weight by 2 ounces over the Kendall-Jackson and La Crema lines. The bottle for the K-J Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay went from 19.5 ounces to 17.5 ounces, and the La Crema chardonnay and pinot noir bottles dropped from 20.5 to 18.4 ounces.
“Looking at our greenhouse gas emissions, we found that nearly half of our carbon footprint was from bottles, because the energy used in producing glass is very high,” Jackson said.