Last weekend I had the privilege of attending the Slow Wine Coalition’s wine tasting and presentation at SuperStudio Maxi in Milano. This event was a part of the larger Milano Wine Week. Slow Wine Coalition and Porto Protocol joined in partnership in 2022, debuting at the Slow Wine Fair in Bologna. Italy is one of the top wine producing countries in the world, and it was a pleasure to engage with producers that making wine in respect to the Slow Wine Coalition’s manifesto.
“The Manifesto for good, clean and fair wine is born from Slow Food’s experience over the years, a long-standing relationship in which wine has played a crucial role, thanks to the passionate involvement of wine experts, winemakers and technicians.”
– Slow Wine Coalition
Our initiative at this event was to create a questionnaire specifically for Italian wine producers and consumers to understand and contextualize knowledge, interests and concerns regarding the sustainability of packaging.
There was an incredible amount of spirit and liveliness at this event, despite the rather poor yields in the vineyard that many producers faced. Four wineries in particular stuck out to me, as they were represented by a young member of the family. It is incredible to see the younger generations be an active part of the operation. I engaged in great dialogue with many producers who are interested and critically analyzing sustainable practices outside the realm of the vineyard and winery.
The questions included in the questionnaire for producers included:
“To which countries do you export the most wine?”
“Is there a type of [sustainable] container you would be interested in using more of in the future?”
“What criteria do you use when choosing the type of packaging for your wines? Ethical, Finacial, Functional, Marketing?”
For consumers, questions were more targeted toward understanding what influences consumer’s purchases and how much knowledge they had about the carbon footprint of wine packaging. We were curious to know if they were willing to spend more for a wine with some sort of ‘sustainabile certification.’
Walking around the event I noticed that many producers were serving wine in light-weight bottles (less than 500 g) and/or bottles that fall into the category of a ‘standardized bottle shape’ necessary function in reusable bottle schemes. One producer even had wine in a bottle which had a hand-drawn label. The producer said he did it himself and liked the idea, but it took so much time to write on each bottle individually. However, I did not see one producer pour or display wine that was in a container other than glass. There was no bag-in-box, PET bottles, or canned wine. Our questionnaire also included the question about producers’ interest in using other containers other than glass. The results (so far) are leaning heavily toward using glass either light-weight bottles, traditional bottles (which must be used for sparkling wines) and utilizing a reusable bottle.
Italy is such a unique wine producing country. It is incredible complex, and it is comprised of both large wine companies and small individual landowners. Italian producers export a large percentage of wine to international markets, and that is due to a variety of factors. The average salary is lower in Italy than in the United States for example, therefore export markets tend to have wine buyers have more spending power. It makes sense that Italian producers want to export their wine so they can gain a bigger profit. However, this lends itself to issues in regard to creating a more circular economy, specifically in the realm of glass bottle production, distribution and disposal. I have lived in many states throughout the country I have seen first-hand the difference in recycling rates and different recycling regulations in each county. This is the bottleneck issue. Italian wine is being exported in glass bottles, consumed in international markets and then that bottle is not being recycled in the way that would support a circular economy and would ultimately work to reduce wine’s carbon footprint.
More information about the Slow Wine Coalition can be found below.
If you are interested in learning more about working with the Porto Protocol or conducting an initiative at your upcoming event, please contact us via email. Questionnaires are one of the simplest ways to gather data to better illustrate an issue and work to find a solution.
Written by Tana Schwarz, Communications Specialist at Porto Protocol
Photos by Slow Wine Coalition