Coming soon - 'climate neutral' wine

29th October 2007, Comments 0 comments

29 October 2007, BORDEAUX (AFP) - The first-ever attempt at a climate neutral vineyard in France is underway in Bordeaux's Medoc region, where winemaker Remi Lacombe plans to offset his own carbon emissions by investing in a carbon-reducing project elsewhere.

29 October 2007

BORDEAUX (AFP) - The first-ever attempt at a climate neutral vineyard in France is underway in Bordeaux's Medoc region, where winemaker Remi Lacombe plans to offset his own carbon emissions by investing in a carbon-reducing project elsewhere.

Lacombe, who has four chateaux in the region, is working in conjunction with German based climate protection group, ClimatePartner, to measure his own emissions and find a climate-friendly scheme somewhere in the world.

"To compensate for my carbon emissions, which, from the four vineyards add up to about 639 tonnes of CO2 per year -­ or about 1.7 kilos per bottle -- I will buy a project that prevents production of the same amount of CO2," Lacombe explained. He will choose his project in the next few days he says, hopefully finding something that fits with what he does.

A range of carbon offset projects are proposed by ClimatePartner, including for example, the replacement of a wood-burning stove in a developing country by a solar-powered device.

Lacombe says it is all about investing where you can maximise the benefits.

"The efforts we make here in France, for example, to reduce our driving speeds save us about one euro. To replace an inefficient truck part somewhere in Africa for example with that one euro has far more impact," Lacombe explained.

During the measuring of his CO2 levels, a process which took up most of last September, Lacombe says he learned to his surprise how much came from the wine making process itself, during yeast fermentation for example.

"Then there are the tractors, my car, the heating in the wine cellar and in the storage areas, plus electricity."

As a result Lacombe says he has already introduced several carbon reducing practices, such as exterior lights that switch off automatically and a new cooling system for the wine.

"During the wine making process I try and keep my wine between 20 and 28 degrees. Others have their own ideas, but that is what I aim for," he said.

"To do that I used to circulate water that was cooled to two degrees around the tanks. Now, I will use water at 14 degrees. There is no point cooling something only to let it warm up again."

To date Lacombe says has invested about 10,000 euros (14,000 US dollars) in the project, not counting his personal time. "Now it is up to the consumer to choose my wines," he judged. The future of the project depends on them he says.

Lacombe said the actual process by which the carbon would be offset would be managed by ClimatePartner.

It stocks the carbon neutral labels carrying a description of the project and for each bottle sold by Lacombe he pays a nominal sum to ClimatePartner which goes towards the carbon offset project.

The price Lacombe pays for the labels is less than one cent, and the wine will be sold at the usual price of seven to eight euros (10 to 11.5 US dollars). Profits, if any, are derived from increased sales to what are known as "committed consumers".

The labels, which state this is the first French wine to be climatically neutral, will be a chance, Lacombe hopes, to send a message to consumers that they can do something pleasurable and useful to save the planet.

"When one produces about 380,000 bottles per year, that is more than 1,000 chances a day to send a message," Lacombe said. "I just hope lots of people try to copy me."

AFP

Subject: French news

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