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Is wine a sustainable commodity?

One of the most commonly-heard phrases in the modern lexicon is 'carbon footprint.' Whether it's how often you drive your car, or the amount of household waste that you recycle, decreasing the size of your environmental impact has become something of a way of life.

Eating sustainable food is another way of keeping on the green side of the line. Though the term can be broadly applied, sustainable food is a certain method of growing crops and grain, as well as animals, in a way that is both ecologically and ethically responsible.

That can mean ensuring that the environment is protected, human health is guaranteed (including that of workers) and farm animals are treated humanely.

What is sustainable wine?

Can wine, though, be considered a sustainable commodity? A restaurant opening in Mayfair, London, named Bouillabaisse, has a menu containing only sustainable coastal cuisine - including its wine list.

"All wines will be from bona fide wine estates and not repackaged bulk wine with private labels," states Bouillabaisse's Barry McCaughley.

"We have painstakingly sourced top-quality wine from authentic, conscious, quality-obsessed winemakers, which is easier said than done at the price-sensitive end of the list."

Though it's an admirable stand taken by Bouillabaisse, what exactly constitutes a sustainable wine, and are they a popular addition to the home wine cellar?

It's difficult to fully define such a phrase, as terms as 'organic' and 'natural' are imprinted on many a label.

However, the United Kingdom Vineyards Association (UKVA) states that a sustainable wine is one produced with an awareness of preservative and pesticide use, as well as being created in both an economically and ecologically responsible way.

How sustainable can wine be?

Some wine producers even take their green wines one step further, considering bottle production and distribution. Indeed, the greenest of the green winemakers attempt to ensure that every step of the winemaking process adheres to the most environmentally-friendly of procedures.

A researcher at the Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, has even figured out how to turn wine waste into an effective biofuel.

Green grows in popularity

As with recycling, hybrid cars and organic produce, sustainable wine is ever-growing in popularity. Indeed, New Zealand's total wine output stands at 94 percent sustainable, and the Californian terroir of Sonoma County is now aiming to become the first on the planet to reach a full 100 percent.

"There's an increased commitment to not only sustainable wine growing, but to continuous improvement and transparency " adds Allison Jordan of the Sustainable Wine Institute.