Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Is there any point in shipping organic wines to Europe from abroad?

The main ideas behind the organic movement were environmental protection, the health of humans and animals and the production of better and more natural organic food and wines.

In order to achieve this, chemical-synthetic pesticides, systemic pesticides (fungicides), herbicides and artificial fertilizers were banned from the vineyards. Good, serious organic vintners reduce the sulfur content in organic wine to a minimum and do not use any other questionable aids in the wine cellar.

Thus it seems paradoxical to transport organic wines from South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Chile or Argentina and in doing so to pollute the environment with carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, sulfur, soot and particulate matter.

Of course organic wine dealers and many customers as well are interested in trying wines from other continents, but to be honest, how many wines would we be able to allocate to their origin if we were to do a blind wine-tasting. And there is no shortage of good European organic wines, quite the opposite is true. Due to their geographical and climatic diversity, Spain, Italy, France, Portugal, Austria and Germany, and other European countries as well produce a wide range of good and even excellent organic wines whose transport is considerably more environmentally friendly.

According to a report done by the UN and referred to by The Guardian, the carbon dioxide emission resulting from shipment by sea is three times higher than previously assumed. Thus the following amounts of carbon dioxide would be discharged into the air for the shipment of one bottle of wine:

Comparison between shipment by sea and road transport. Port of destination is Hamburg, delivery address Tübingen. This is based on a distance of 1,500 km for the transport by truck to the ports and from the port of destination to Tübingen. One bottle of organic wine weighs 1.4 kg.

Erich Hartl

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