The New Zealand Winegrowers 2022 Sustainability Report makes a strong case for the country being one of the greenest in the world for wine production.
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Autumn vines near Kumeu west of Auckland, New Zealand
Credit: Mark Meredith / Getty Images

New Zealand is already known for making incredible wine, Sauvignon Blanc in particular. But the country's wine industry would also like to be known for something else: sustainability.

In the lead up to Earth Day (reminder, it's today), the trade group New Zealand Winegrowers has released their 2022 Sustainability Report, documenting the success of their Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand (SWNZ) program which has now certified 1,840 vineyards and 310 wineries, numbers which include the vast majority of vineyards in the region.

"The New Zealand wine industry has rightfully earned its place as one of the most progressive wine producing nations in the world," Edwin Massey, general manager of sustainability at New Zealand Winegrowers, said in announcing the report (found here). "Over 96 percent of all vineyard area in New Zealand is now certified as sustainable through the SWNZ programme, with 10 percent of New Zealand wineries holding organic certification. It's an achievement we can be proud of, but the real work is ensuring we not only sustain but elevate our position with an enduring commitment to continuous improvement."

New Zealand Winegrowers also aims to be both carbon neutral and zero waste to landfill by 2050, so the report highlights the strides made towards these policies as well. Fifty-eight percent of wineries are "implementing specific initiatives to minimize their carbon footprint": For instance, over half of New Zealand producers now use lightweight bottles as one of their packaging methods, and 12 percent have installed solar panels. And on the vineyard side, 41 percent are taking similar carbon footprint reducing measures.

Steps are also being made to reduce water usage and waste. Over 90 percent of both wineries and vineyards have water conservation plans, while 98 percent of both wineries and vineyards have recycling or waste reduction programs.

"It's the positive individual actions of New Zealand wine businesses that add up to make a big impact across the wine industry, and that are helping to deliver lasting change," Massey continued. "For our growers and wineries, sustainability means growing grapes and producing our world-famous wines in such a way that we can do so for generations to come. Every little bit counts. It means consumers can trust that their bottle of New Zealand wine has been made with respect for our world and for our people."

Meanwhile, the report itself ends with an interesting analogy: one that wine drinkers can hopefully relate to. "The journey of wine from grape to glass is only possible because of every little bit that adds up along the way," the authors write. "The journey of sustainability is no different. Everything we do has a ripple effect, through the vines we plant, the footprints we tread and the legacies we leave."