Australian wineries are being encouraged to embrace sustainability in line with changing consumer expectations.

Key points:

  • Australia’s wine industry is moving towards 100 per cent sustainability 
  • Winemakers can gain certification and add a logo to their bottle 
  • Experts say these logos are effective if their meaning is well communicated

Sustainable Winegrowing Australia currently has 767 members, 125 of which have been officially certified.

Once grapegrowers and winemakers gain certification, they can add the logo to their bottles to inform customers of the company’s sustainability status.

Sustainable Winegrowing Australia’s program focuses on several key areas: land and soil, water, people and business, biodiversity, energy and waste. 

Wynns Coonawarra Estate viticulturist Catherine Kidman said the program gave the company’s sustainability goals credibility.

“It’s a program that enables us to walk the talk and show that we’re really progressing in terms of our sustainability.

“It gives our customers and consumers confidence that we’re trying to do the right thing.”

A middle aged woman smiles. It's a sunny day, she's standing in front of an old, well preserved brick building

Catherine Kidman says sustainability is important for the winery.(ABC Rural: Megan Hughes)

The winery is also working to improve vineyard biodiversity and water management.

Dr Kidman says sustainability is an ongoing priority. 

“It gives us a chance to review our processes yearly,” she said.

“Those metrics enable us to look at what we’ve done really well in this past season but also gives us an opportunity to deep dive and look at the things we actually need to improve on.” 

Not a marketing gimmick 

While Wynns Coonawarra Estate doesn’t currently show the trustmark on its bottles, Dr Kidman says the company is working towards that. 

A close up image of wine grapes starting to form on a 100 year old vine. The trunk is twisted and gnarled.

Wynns Coonawarra Estate is working to improve biodiversity in their vineyards.(ABC Rural: Megan Hughes)

Marketing wine expert Armando Corsi said the logos could be an asset in awareness campaigns if the meaning was well communicated. 

Dr Corsi, from the University of Adelaide, said it was important the industry got the word out. 

“The challenge is making people aware of these certifications,” he said. 

“I think the most important thing is making sure we have the resources to invest in explaining what this new trustmark is all about.

‘Tell the right story’

In Europe’s wine industry, organic and protected designation of origin logos are proof trustmarks can work but it’s taken 20 years to build consumers’ trust.

“Obtaining a result in a month — that’s impossible but if we keep on using that trustmark, and we have the resources to communicate the meaning of the logo. We can tell the right story to people,” Dr Corsi said. 

A close up photo of bunches of dark purple grapes in several black buckets

Australia’s wine industry is aiming to be 100 percent sustainable in line with changing consumer expectations.(ABC Rural: Jemima Burt)

Australian Grape and Wine chief executive Tony Battaglene said the group was working on getting the message across to consumers.

“We’ve registered a trustmark around the world, once you’re certified you can put it on your bottles,” he said. 

“We’re going to go through a marketing program to make sure our major customers both in Australia and internationally understand the trustmark and what it means.” 

Green future

The Australian wine industry is aiming to be 100 per cent sustainable.

“As an industry we’ve got a carbon neutral future in mind,” Mr Battaglene said. 

Old, gnarled vines are sprouting leaves at the start of spring. Grass grows between the rows. It's a sunny day

Tony Battaglene says the length of the certification process depends on how quickly a member can demonstrate they are a sustainable body. (ABC Rural: Megan Hughes)

Mr Battaglene hopes every grapegrower and winemaker in the country will join Sustainable Winegrowing Australia.

“You train up, you change your practices, you fill in the workbook so we’re collecting data as well and then you actually go through a certification process,” Mr Battaglene said. 

“We believe it’s giving us a great marketing opportunity that we’re going to build over the coming years.” 

Posted , updated 

Australia’s wine industry works on telling ‘the right story’ about sustainability
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