Boxed Wine and Vodka Made From CO2: The Green Future of Booze

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, climate change still demands global attention, which is why a green movement is sweeping the wine and spirits world.

Did you know that synthetic bioluminescence from bacteria could make lighting in wineries more sustainable? Or that distillers can use solar power to create vodka out of thin air and water? These are among the surprising things I learned at a forum on wine and climate change at Vinexpo Paris in February, before social distancing became a way of life and air travel a memory.

At the three-day Living Soils Forum sponsored by industry giant Moët Hennessy, we sat on benches crafted from used barrel staves in a huge space enclosed by recyclable cork walls, sipping wine and listening to international climate scientists, winemakers, and environmental consultants discuss the multibillion-dollar wine industry’s future. (Full disclosure: I spoke on a panel about organic certification).

Naturally, it was also a way for the luxury drinks company to show off its eco-conscious credentials, which were more extensive than I realized. Chief Executive Officer Philippe Schaus announced that all the vineyards Moët Hennessy owns in Champagne will be free of herbicides by the end of 2020. This is a big deal, given that its brands produce millions of bottles of bubbly (even if other Champagne houses, such as grande marque Roederer, which makes Cristal, are ahead in embracing organic and biodynamic viticulture). Moët Hennessy is also investing €20 million ($21.8 million) in a new sustainability research center in the region, meant to explore everything from recycling water to lowering carbon emissions.

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