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GB sustainability initiative given the “green” light

Published:  10 July, 2020

The environmental sustainability scheme for the UK wine industry is now underway, around a year after plans were first announced in order to put GB winemaking on a par with green rivals in New Zealand and Champagne.

According to Wines of Great Britain (WineGB), which has spearheaded the scheme, founder members collectively represent 40% of total GB hectarage, with many now awaiting their formal accreditations.

Officially called Sustainable Wines of Great Britain (SWGB), the scheme was created with the aim of recognising the industry’s “shared responsibility to minimise its impact on the environment and maximise its contribution to conservation and biodiversity”.

It aims to set best practice, minimum standards and prohibited practices to adhere to in both the vineyard and winery, with retailers like Waitrose and Marks & Spencer already giving their backing.

SWGB has also already developed a carbon calculating tool, providing a “first step” for GB vinegrowers and winemakers looking to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

The groups said it follows in the footsteps of competing wine-producing regions such as New Zealand, Oregon and Champagne which already have their own sustainability schemes.

Sustainable credentials are “an increasing driver to consumer purchase decisions”, the organisation said.

“Whilst we are just at the beginning of this process, we are making a promise to the future, as custodians of the land and its precious resources,” SWGB chair Chris Foss said.

“Through working with key members of our industry, plus retail giants and suppliers, we are developing something meaningful and lasting. 

“Our key ambition is to get most, if not all, of the UK vineyards and wine producers signed up to the scheme, so that the industry as a whole will be perceived to be more sustainable by government, trade and consumers. When you see the SWGB Certification Mark on a bottle of wine, you can be assured that the producer is striving for environmental sustainability by implementing the Sustainable WineGB Scheme Guidelines.”

As it develops, the scheme will set new guidelines and standards, creating a culture of “continuous improvement”.

Top photo by Albury Vineyard, credit to Jonathan Blackham