Champagne might be for your special occasions but it’s a serious business, with a serious impact on the planet.
From pesticides on vineyards to the air miles clocked up flying glass bottles around the world, our favourite bubbly drink, like all wine, can wreck havoc in its wake. And when you think there were 297 million bottles of Champagne sold last year, that’s a sizeable impact.
Which is why Champagne houses are making huge steps to tackle their contribution to climate change.
What makes Champagne, Champagne?
Anything called Champagne has to be made in the Champagne region, which sits to the north east of Paris, where 0.5% of the world’s vineyards are located. Only the sparking wine made here can be called Champagne.
A couple of things that make it special is that Champagne is predominantly only made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier grapes and it undergoes a second fermentation (by adding yeast and sugar) in the bottle.
How is Champagne becoming more sustainable?
The region of Champagne in France, where all Champagne has to be made, was the first wine-growing region to carry out its own carbon footprint assessment.
They’ve made a commitment that by buying into the history and prestige of Champagne, you’re now also buying into their support of a long term future through more sustainable practices.
The region is aiming for a 25% reduction in its carbon footprint by 2025 and a 75% reduction by 2050.
So far, 20% of the region is certified as eco-friendly, but the aim is to make this 100% within the next decade.
Over the last few years, the region has reduced the carbon footprint of every bottle of Champagne by 20%.
It’s also reduced the use of ‘vine protection products’ and fertilizers by 50%, which is important when you think about all those chemicals leaching through soil and into waterways.
Soil health (or lack of it) is a huge global issue that doesn’t get as much coverage as plastics or pollution but it’s intrinsic to our ability to grow food. Read our feature on why soil health matters here.
The Champagne houses have also been working on their waste. Reusing 100% of by-products and 90% of waste created.
But it’s not just about reduction and recycling. There is huge innovation happening here as well.
With every Champagne house (there are over 16,000 growers) committed to huge reductions in carbon, waste and resources, it’s time to say cheers to Champagne.
Experimental research is looking into hybrid grapes which can withstand the changing temperatures in the region, while it also has the largest fleet of electric tractors.