Paul Mabray, a wine professional I follow on Twitter, recently tweeted that “Winery sustainability is NOT just about the environmental impact. It’s about living wages, work/life balance, healthy vendors, social contracts, community contributions, R&D investments and esp. making profit.”
I retweeted the comment because I thought it was poignant, but I didn’t realize at the time that it directly correlated to an article of mine that was published on the Coravin company blog on the same day as the tweet. The article is about one of the pioneering sustainable wineries in Argentina, Domaine Bousquet.
I was drawn to this subject because of the ongoing chatter on and offline about “sustainability” in the wine industry. What does it actually mean? What is sustainable? Why should a winery think about moving toward more sustainable practices?
Many will equate sustainability simply to viticulture and winemaking, and while, yes, there is a need for sustainable practices that benefit the environment in all kinds of agricultural activities, sustainability goes beyond the vineyard. The practices that we create and utilize today will have impacts on land and future generations of farmers and growers, but also on other aspects of the wine industry’s totem pole. If we don’t protect the sustainability of the industry as a whole, it won’t even matter how environmentally friendly our viticulture standards are, because the resources that support the rest of the industry won’t exist.
Domaine Bousquet is a pioneer in Mendoza in creating sustainable practices especially in the remote region of Tupungato, where the winery is located. What once was a desert is now a thriving wine region, but it can once again become a desert if proper measures respecting the land and way of life are not implemented.
Sustainability as a Way of Life
In 2011, Anne Bousquet took over the winery her father, Jean, had founded and promised an all-encompassing sustainable business model. This meant better conditions and educational opportunities for her staff, as well as improving the infrastructure of the winery’s surrounding community. After all, if there was not a safe road to get to her winery, would workers even be able to get to work on time, if at all? Would guests ever come visit? This is the sustainable mindset.
Sustainability beyond the vineyard means that wineries should be working toward creating an environment that is sustainable not only for the vines but for their employees, community, and guests who want to visit and support the operation. Success is dependent on a well-rounded sustainability model, and Domaine Bousquet is definitely an example of how that success can look.