Dave Anning, who writes a wine column for Tavy Links, spoke to Mike McGarry, the owner of Sovereign Wines, about the impact of the wine industry on the environment and what the business is doing to support other local businesses on-trade.
The wine trade moves wine all over the globe and involves products such as glass and cardboard as well as the wine itself, but it still has the potential to reduce the impact this has on the environment.
Buying local produce is a powerful way to reduce a company’s carbon footprint, but this poses problems in our industry. First, filling our shelves solely with wine from the UK would leave large gaps. Although home-grown sparkling wines are world class now with white wines are close behind, our growing season still isn’t quite long enough for us to ripen most red wines. Only thinner-skinned grapes will work, and even then with a degree of uncertainty. Ironically, it is global warming that is extending the warm weather and making it possible at all!
Second, people demand wines from around the world for good reasons. Different environments are key to the variety in wine, and wines grown in the UK reflect our environment in their style - typically light and fresh. For people who like dark and broody reds, I’m afraid Primitivo and Cabernet Sauvignon won’t be growing here any time soon!
Third, despite the growing demand for wines grown and made in the UK, the principal obstacle is price. We have tiny vineyards here compared to most major wine-growing nations, which means higher production costs, and it's really tough for our vineyards to compete. The wines we sell are mainly from the Southwest, including a number from here in Devon. The Government has also recently announced there will be measures to give the UK’s wine industry a boost, and English Wine Week is coming up (17-25 June), so watch this space!
In terms of supporting local industries, we buy as many beers and spirits from local sources as possible. Of course if a customer wants a bottle of Cognac it has to come from France, but the southwest of England produces a great range of top quality spirits. Whiskeys, gins, vodkas and other spirits are proliferating - we even offer rums made here in Devon! Obviously the ingredients have to be imported, but the expertise is now well established and the quality is very high.