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Water Footprint: Water Usage in Wines and Vines

The water footprint (WF) of a product is an indicator of the consumptive use of water resources along its life cycle. Water scarcity is recognized to be a major global challenge. As such, the evaluation of the WF of agro-industrial products is key, as they are widely known as having a significant footprint on water resources.

The global average water footprint of grapes is 610 liter/kg. One kilogram of grapes results in 0.7 liter of wine, so the water footprint of wine is APPROXIMATELY 870 liters of water per liter of wine. This means that one glass of wine (125 ml) costs 110 liters (according to the Water Footprint Network). Even knowing that the vine has a capacity for survival and resilience to austere climates, as we speak, the increased production of grapes and wine, combined with droughts and climate change, mean that now, more than ever, water needs to be used efficiently. Therefore, there is the need to understand where and how can we improve water management in the wine life cycle, reduce it or even eliminate it.

THE DEBATE

This Climate Talk will address this issue and will try to identify the major challenges on the use of water throughout the grape and wine production in this warming climate. In this conversation, we will analyze the importance of efficient use of water and explore the best technologies and practices available both on the field and on the wineries. To do so, we will count with different guests from around the world. They will approach all three components of the WF: green, blue and grey, from dry farming to use of rainwater and reuse of treated wastewater.

OCTOBER 14TH

5pm LISBON & LONDON | 6pm johannesburg CALIFORNIA & MADRID

On Porto Protocol's youtube channel:

THE TOPICS

 What is the importance of measuring the water footprint of wine?
 How Climate change is affecting water availability
 What are the main challenges for the wine industry in terms of water usage?
 Which are the main impacts of water scarcity on the wine industry?
 Should we use water at all in the production of a luxury roduct?
 What type of water management infrastructure does the wine industry need to tackle the water challenge?
 What is the role of soil, biodiversity and grape variety in water resilience in vineyards?

linda bell

HOST

LINDA JOHNSON-BELL . UK

Wine writer, author, consultant, magazine editor and Founder of the Oxford’s Wine and Climate Change Institute

A wine writer, author, magazine editor, and panel judge for 25 years, twelve of them spent in France, Johnson-Bell is the Founder of Oxford’s Wine and Climate Change Institute (2016) and is a consultant in adaptation & mitigation strategies, specialising in freshwater use, dry farming, and planting. Her BA is in International Relations. She has a Graduate Diploma in Law (Oxford Brookes University), a Post Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice (University of Oxford’s OXILP), diplomas from Paris’s La Sorbonne and l’Institut des Sciences Politiques, and a diploma from the Oxford Adaptation Academy, Smith School & Global Climate Adaptation Partnership. Linda was a Speaker at the 2016 Royal Anthropological Institute’s Anthropology, Weather and Climate Change Conference in London; the 1.5 Degree Paris Update conference in Keble College, Oxford; created “The Taste of Climate Change” for GCAP’s Oxford Adaptation Academy in collaboration with the Smith School of Enterprise and Environment; published Viticulture’s Global Water Footprint: An Unaffordable Luxury in Italy’s Archivio Antropologico Mediterraneo (December 2017); the 2019 Climate Change Leadership: Solutions for the Wine Industry, Oporto, Portugal (Water Management Panel); is a Contributing Author to the 2019 United Nation’s Encyclopaedia of Sustainable Development Goals, Goal 13 (Climate Action) with her Chapter Title: Climate Change and Water Management, and was a Global Team Expert in the June 2020 Global Report: Private Markets for Climate Resilience published by The Nordic Development Fund. Johnson-Bell lives in the UK where she is a member of the Welsh government’s wine Special Interest Group and is writing her next climate change book: Blind Drunk.”

GUEST

Alexandre Relvas 21

ALEXANDRE RELVAS. ALENTEJO. PT

CEO and Head Winemaker at Casa Relvas 

Born on the 11th September 1983 in Lisbon, Alexandre is the eldest of five siblings, is married and has two children. Having been born into a family who has been connected to agriculture for the past five generations, it was only natural that he followed his studies in this subject. After accomplishing high school in Lisbon, Alexandre moved to Bordeaux where he graduated in viticulture and oenology from the Institut Rural de Vayres. During his stay in France, he worked in the experimental winery of Chateau Gaudichaud, testing the new products of Novozymes and Laffort. In 2006, Alexandre joined Casa Relvas as winemaker in the Herdade de São Miguel winery. Passionate about adrenaline and nature, his hobbies relate to motorbikes and equestrian, a sport in which he has frequently represented Portugal.

GUEST

Frans Smit

FRANS K SMIT . South Africa

Cellar Master at Spier Wine Farm

“Respect what the vineyard hands you,” is Spier Cellar Master Frans Smit’s mantra. This passionate commitment for creating wines that are authentically and vividly expressive of their terroir has seen Frans amass an impressive list of awards both at home and abroad.

Under his guidance the Spier team earned six Double Golds and 9 Golds at the 2017 Veritas Awards, where the Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc 2015 won the inaugural Veritas Vertex Award. The following year, Spier was named the 2018 South African Producer of the Year at the International Wine & Spirit Competition, where the Spier 21 Gables Sauvignon Blanc 2017 won the Sauvignon Blanc Trophy and the Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc 2016 won the Chenin Blanc Trophy.

A hands-on approach to winemaking sees Frans in the cellar most days tasting out of barrel and tank to check the development of the wines. Mid-palate weight is seen by Frans as the most important feature of a premium quality wine; while ability to age is a key prerequisite in the Frans K Smit, his eponymous flagship blend.

All is lost however without superior grape quality – this in turn depending on the caliber of the vines. Endless hours are spent in consultation with his team identifying and maintaining vineyards that consistently produce excellent yields.

“It all happens in the vineyard,” he says. “We carefully select the region and the growing blocks. There’s a deep reverence for what’s brought to the table in the harvest basket. This is the big thing: not tampering with natural process – but helping it along.”

GUEST

TIAGO ALVES DE SOUSA. DOURO. PT

Owner and winemaker at Alves de Sousa

Born in a family with strong roots in the Douro, Tiago studied Agricultural Engineering in the University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (UTAD), being distinguished with the awards “Foundation António de Almeida” and the “Merit Scholarship” given to the best student of the degree. After some periods of vintage training and a passage at the Institute of Viticulture of the Università Cattolica de Piacenza (Italy) he joins officially his family’s winery in 2002. In January 2011 Tiago concluded a PhD in Viticulture and Oenology at UTAD. Today he’s responsible for the production of all the Alves de Sousa family’s Douro & Port wines, with a key contribution to the “Producer of the Year” award won in 2006, for over 300 medals in International Wine Competitions and for some of the highest classifications of Portuguese wines in the main international publications. Along with his work in the wine production, his passion for science brought him back to the academic world as a Professor at the “International Vintage Master” (involving 8 Countries) and since 2020 as an Invited Professor of Oenology at UTAD. He’s also a judge in some of the most important international wine competitions (in the UK, China, Germany, Belgium, etc.). In 2017 Tiago’s work was distinguished with the “National Winemaker Award” (by the Honorary Order of Santa Maria de Ossónoba) and got a double nomination for the awards “Winemaker of the Year” (by mag. “Wine – A Essência do Vinho”) and “Winemaker Generation XXI” (by mag. “Paixão pelo Vinho” ).  In 2020 he was distinguished with the “Oenology Award 2020 – Douro + Sustainable” by the Port & Douro Wine Institute.

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