Chile is one of the first wine countries to have a sustainability standard that goes beyond the vineyard and incorporates the winery, offices and community.
As a way of standardizing the sustainable measures some producers were already taking, and creating a high standard for other wine producers to follow, in 2010 Wines of Chile’s technical branch, Wine Consortiums, set up a ‘National Code of Sustainable Practices’.
Through identifying all the areas in which wineries work and can be more sustainable, the comprehensive code has been developed to enable wineries to be more sustainable: environmentally friendly, economically viable and socially equitable. When fulfilling the code’s requirements, the company is awarded a seal of approval to help consumers in their choice of wine. The code encompasses the vineyards, winery buildings, and a social aspect.
“We wanted to show that sustainability is not just in the vineyards it’s in the warehouse and the social aspect too,” says Patricio Parra,Head of Sustainability Programme R&D Consortium Wines of Chile. . “It’s not possible to talk about sustainability unless we talk about all three areas together.”
The sustainability qualification falls into three parts: a ‘green’ section for sustainability in the vineyard; ‘red’ for sustainability in the winery and buildings; and ‘orange’ for social sustainability. Once the applicant has achieved the requirements for all three parts they get the official award and qualification, which can be printed on their wine labels.
The ‘green’ section of the award, focusing on the vineyard, has measures such as protecting the soil and water by looking at irrigation methods, planting green crops between vines to avoid soil erosion, and by leaving organic matter in the vineyards to enrich the soil. There are strict measurements in place to avoid water contamination, a limit on pesticides and fertilizers, and protection measures for workers in the vineyards.
The ‘red’ section, focusing on the winery and bottling plant, has controls on water management, energy management and rules in place to avoid any contamination. This section also looks at health and safety in the plant with codes on workers’ protection and supervision of implementation.
The final section is ‘orange’, the social chapter. This focuses on social sustainability of the company and everyone working in it, from people in the vines, the winery or even in their administration offices (which are often in Santiago for example). The code focuses on ethics in the workplace with a code of conduct to avoid discrimination, anti-ethical behavior, corruption and other incorrect treatment to ensure that there are fair working conditions and equal opportunities in the workplace.
There is also an environment component in terms of transport sharing, and water and energy efficiency throughout all office buildings. Finally this section includes measures to build and improve on community relationships by opening facilities for the local community and creating social interactions like school projects and social meetings.
The awards scheme is completely self-governing with independent certification bodies regulating and awarding the certification. The award also doesn’t discriminate the size of the winery or producer, if it is simply a grape farmer who has no winery or admin offices he can just do the green part of the award, in the vineyard. So far there are 38 companies awarded.
“The main objective is to achieve the goal of having sustainable Chilean wine,” says Parra. “We want to have all the companies on the same level – no matter the size of the company, they can get the certification.”
As the movement gains momentum within Chile it is also starting to turn eyes abroad, and was selected as finalist of the Sustainability Award of the Year for the Green Awards 2013 organized by The Drinks Business in England.
Find out more info on the Sustainability pages of (www.sustentavid.org).
By Amanda Barnes
Photo credit: Amanda Barnes. Seal of Sustainability: Wines of Chile.