According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), the average person over the age of 15 consumes the equivalent of 53 bottles of wine per year. These consumption trends matter to the environment. According to a study published in the Journal of Cleaner Production and Beverages, the production of alcoholic beverages can contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, land degradation, and water depletion. Recognizing the responsibility they have to the Earth, many beer, wine, and spirit companies are working to produce delicious drinks while taking steps to reduce their environmental footprint.
Another study from the University of Manchester finds one liter of beer can require more than 40 liters of water to produce. It also reveals that the production cultivation of barley and hops is responsible for most of the environmental impact of beer.
Transitioning to practices that protect natural resources, cultural histories, and local economies present significant benefits to beverage producers. Research from the University of Castilla-La Mancha finds that adopting sustainable practices and effectively communicating certifications to consumers generates a competitive advantage for wine producers.
Spirits producers are also taking note. In 2021, Maker’s Mark, one of the most well-known U.S. bourbon brands, achieved B Corp status for its Kentucky distillery. The brand’s Star Hill Farm is the first distillery farm to receive certification from Regenified for its commitment to soil, water, and ecosystem longevity.
And Brian Freedman the author of Crushed: How a Changing Climate is Altering the Way We Drink, says “support the producers who are supporting the planet. It’s impossible to overstate the importance of that.”
To help you find a winemaker, distiller, or brewer to support, Food Tank is highlighting 20 producers and programs bringing sustainable sips to glasses around the world.
1. Aguerrido, Mexico
Aguerrido is a cooperative mezcal producer in Chilapa de Álvarez. Because of the increase in global demand, conversion of land in Mexico for mezcal production has recently led to mass clearings of indigenous forests. This threatens native crops and wild species. The families that own Aguerrido, however, are staying true to traditional mezcal production methods that respect the land, native plants, and surrounding community. The cooperative produces small batches of mezcal while reforesting–not clearing–maguey, palms, and other woody trees.
2. Boochcraft, United States
Boochraft produces kombucha, an alcoholic fermented tea. The company composts all fruit scraps, tea, herbs, cultures, and paper towels while also saving over 1,100 gallons of water per day through their recapture system. Boochcraft partners with The Ecology Center for the advancement of regenerative agriculture.
3. Castelbarry, France
To support environmental, social, and economic sustainability, the winemakers of this region formed Castelbarry, a cooperative cellar. Together, the winemakers not only engage in sustainable growing practices, but also collectively tell the stories of Montpeyroux growers through sociocultural projects like their photography book.
4. Cooperativa Vinicola Garibaldi, Brazil
Cooperativa Vinicola Garibaldi is a wine and grape juice cooperative in Brazil formed by more than 400 families. In order to preserve the cooperative and the future of the families it supports, Garibaldi strives to be “socially fair, ecologically correct, economically viable and culturally diverse,” according to their website. The vineyards are weeded only using hoes, never herbicides, and fertilized with manure.
5. Drop Bear Beer, United Kingdom
Drop Bear Beer maintains the craft of brewing but leaves the alcohol and the carbon emissions behind. Their brewery in Wales became the first carbon-neutral, nonalcoholic brewery in the world earlier this year. Drop Bear takes care of some of their energy needs with solar panels and uses excess heat generated during the brewing process to warm their buildings.
6. Holden Manz, South Africa
Certified by Sustainable Wine South Africa (SWSA), Holden Manz cultivates 16 hectares of vineyards in the Franschhoek Valley, tucked in the mountains of the Western Cape. They recently installed solar panels to reduce their energy consumption and susceptibility to outages resulting from South Africa’s energy crisis. Holden Manz also hosts a dining space where dishes often feature fruits and eggs from the Holden Manz property.
7. House of Brown, United States
House of Brown is an offspring label of the first Black-owned estate winery in Napa Valley, California. Founded in 2018, House of Brown showcases vegan, easy-drinking wine produced by women of color. The label is Certified Green by Lodi Rules—one of the first certifications for wine—for their commitment to sustainable vineyards.
8. Kubota, Japan
Kubota is the label of Asahi-Shuzo, a sake brewer proud of its place in the Niigata prefecture. The hilly, coastal prefecture is known for its ideal ecological conditions which yield high-quality rice. The company recognizes that the quality of their sake is linked to the wellbeing of the land on which they grow rice. Asahi-Shuzo runs The Firefly Village Project to support the firefly, an insect that indicates environmental health.
9. Maker Wine, United States
Women-owned and earth-conscious, Maker Wine is a first choice for high-end wine in recyclable, elegant cans. By canning their wines instead of bottling, the company cuts down on their carbon footprint and protects wines from light exposure. The company is serious about sustainability and elevating underrepresented voices in winemaking.
10. Mijenta Tequila, Mexico
Mijenta is the first of two tequilas to receive the B-Corp certification, designating a company’s transparency and high social and environmental performance. Mijenta grows agave without pesticides or herbicides. And they partner with Women’s Earth Alliance to promote environmental initiatives. The labels on Mijenta Tequila are made using waste from agave plants.
11. Parés Baltà, Spain
The estate of Parés Baltà has been an active vineyard since 1790 and the current owners remain committed to preserving the integrity of their land for future generations. They practice biodynamic agriculture to encourage biodiversity and cultivate successful vineyards without pesticides or herbicides. Parés Baltà also integrates goats and sheep into their fields to promote soil nutrients. The estate credits their lead winemakers, María Elena Jiménez and Marta Casas, with bringing a renaissance of nearly extinct, local grape varietals back to the vineyards.
12. Patagonia Provisions Partner Breweries, United States
Patagonia Provisions, the outdoor apparel brand’s food and beverage business, is partnered with 11 breweries across the U.S. for a new beer initiative. Patagonia tasked each brewery to create a new beer made with Kernza®. Kernza® is a deeply rooted perennial grain harvested from intermediate wheatgrass and provided to the breweries by A-Frame Farm in Minnesota. “By making beer with more perennial grains” instead of annual grains, Patagonia says, “breweries have the potential to move the industry toward a more regenerative future.”
13. Persephone Brewing Company, United States
Persephone Brewing Company is more than a maker of sustainable beer. The brewery is located on a small but busy farm with apple orchards, market gardens, two greenhouses, an apiary, and a flock of chickens. The certified B-Corp brewery composts all organic waste and is working to reclaim runoff for crop irrigation.
14. Proof & Company, Singapore
In partnership with ecoSPIRITS, Proof & Company distributes 14 of its spirits in Singapore using circular packaging. ecoSPIRITS provides reusable containers that help reduce costs, waste, and carbon emissions for producers by eliminating single-use glass. Distillers like Proof & Company are able to create closed loops for themselves and their consumers.
15. Rhum J.M, Martinique
Rhum J.M is a rum distiller known globally for their attention to ecological practices, gender parity, and waste management. In 2016, Rhum J.M converted their distilling operations to be zero waste which included installing a no-exhaust boiler. Rhum J.M completely reuses all bagasse (the residual pulp left after juice is extracted from sugar cane) as biofuel and compost.
16. Rise & Win Brewing Co., Japan
The small town of Kamikatsu has a zero waste policy which Rise & Win Brewing abides by. Through their reRise initiative, Rise & Win Brewing allows microbes to decompose solid waste from the brewing process into a liquid form that is then returned to their barley fields. The company is working to support the sustainable cultivation of hops, coffee, cacao, and vegetables in the immediate area near their restaurant.
17. SPILL, Sweden
SPILL, Gotland Spirits’ second label, is a vodka made entirely from food waste. Together with Coop Gotland, the company collects carbohydrate food waste and substitutes it in the vodka distilling process so new cereal grains do not have to be grown. SPILL now has two additional spirits: a coffee liqueur made from rescued coffee waste and a limoncello made from lemons too ugly to be sold in grocery stores.
18. Terracanta, Italy
The farmers at Ceglia Farm specialize in three products: kiwis, extra virgin olive oil, and natural wine. The certified-biodynamic farm has produced grapes on a small vineyard for over 60 years but only recently began bottling wine under their own label, Terracanta. The farmers create Terracanta wine using only native grapes and spontaneous fermentation in qvevri, traditional Georgian terracotta vats.
19. Volspannhof Dross, Austria
Volspannhof Dross is a pesticide and herbicide-free winery that instead employs ecological interventions such as beneficial insects. The winery’s vineyard plots are surrounded and separated by hedgerows—areas of trees and shrubbery that provide habitats for native wildlife. Silke Mayr, long-time local winemaker, oversees operations for both of the winery’s labels, Volspannhof Mayr and Buchegger.
20. 64° Reykjavik Distillery, Iceland
64° Reykjavik Distillery continues Iceland’s tradition of foraging and respect for the land. The distillery produces liqueur, aquavit, gin, vodka, and Brennivín (the national drink of Iceland) all of which prominently feature native Icelandic ingredients. Beyond ingredients, geothermal energy powers 64° Reykjavik Distillery’s production.
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Photo courtesy of Adam Jaime, Unsplash