It was great to open “ The Best of 2019” issue of Quench, and see not one but two articles on sustainability. We are starting to realize that WE are the solution to the problem, if a solution is to be found. For too long, we have expected someone else: either government or business, to fix our problems. It hasn’t worked so far and it won’t in the future.
At Southbrook we have tried to think of what needs to be done, and have tried to provide an example of what is possible, though frequently we need to think outside the box.
At Southbrook we have, in no particular order
Rather than buying Carbon off sets to make us feel better about high energy use, we have taken that money and invested it in energy reduction and in Ontario’s first winery Net Metering project. Net Metering means that when the sun shines our meter runs backwards. These investments should furnish a net reduction of 85% of our electrical consumption
We have led the way in lightweighting our bottles. The bottle we use most: roughly 60% of our production, weighs 405 grams. More interesting, it is made in Ontario from glass sourced from the LCBO’s “Bag it Back program”, by people living and paying taxes in Ontario. 85% of the glass in each bottle is recycled, so only 15% or roughly 60 grams, has to be sourced from new sand, a declining resource. These bottles are more expensive than the industry standard (mostly) Chinese bottles, but we feel strongly that if we expect people to buy our wine, we should use suppliers that stand for the same as we do
To speak to Michelle Bouffard’s article where she references LEED, Stratus was the first LEED winery in the world, which they achieved in 2005. At Southbrook we received our Gold level in 2008, and we were pleased to see Tantalus join our ranks in 2010.
Reducing carbon output is incredibly important, but it is not the only thing. Often tillage is higher in Organic Agriculture, meaning more diesel consumption. However which is better: an extra 10 litres of fuel or 250 ml of Glyphosate? Until recently Glyphosate was viewed as harmless but today most people know that under its trade name Roundup, it is far from benign.
Remember I said it is up to us to solve the problem? In our wallets, we have more power than any Government. We need to THINK about any action we are about to take and base our buying decisions on the ethos of the company we are supporting. Almost every winery makes what they think is the best wine they can. Without it being good, nothing else matters
After that, here are some other things to think about:
Local is always good. Like the greenbelt? Help preserve it by buying what is produced on it. Like lower taxes? Support someone who is paying taxes in the same jurisdiction as you are. Like Fair Trade ? Support companies who support those principles, though remember that North America, Europe and Australia may not join as they are expected to already be in compliance.
Organic and Biodynamic are a certified way to know what is happening on the farm. There is too much Greenwashing happening when people say ‘it’s too expensive to certify”. By the way one of the central tenets of Biodynamic agriculture is the use of Manure in the fields: I don’t think it is possible to be certified without it
How would I sum it up? 3 rules
1. If it doesn’t taste good, don’t drink it
2. If it tastes good, buy from someone whose values align best with yours. This requires thought
3. If it tastes good and their values align, try to buy from someone to whom the purchase would be important. This usually skews to a small producer. A bottle purchased from someone who makes 1,000 case year is much more meaningful to them than one purchased from a 2,000,000 case a year company
These are my principles. I would love to hear if you agree. Remember that our wallets have more power than the Government, and Corporations will listen and change behaviour if we back up our words with actions. Take back your power and we will make the difference!!
My brother and sister-in-law are (relatively small) farmers currently situated in Mildmay, Ontario.
They espouse similar beliefs to what you have shared above: buy local, enjoy things that taste wonderful, and choose to produce sustainably (even if it seems harder).
My wife and I love Southbrook's "Wild Ferment Cider".
In fact, you personally delivered a case of the Wild Ferment Cider to our doorstep in Brooklin, Ontario.
Bill - it meant a lot to us that you drove to our community to make the delivery personally. My wife and I are going to vote for you and Southbrook Organic once again... we would like to get 5 more cases!
See you soon and keep doing what you are doing.