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Smashed Grapes is a start-up wine retailer currently on the Chester University Business Growth Programme, and is attending the sustainability bootcamp with other like-minded businesses. We were asked what sustainability looks like in the wine industry and how consumers can make more conscious choices when it comes to wine.

We want to open up this piece by being real for a minute. It’s hard sometimes to do the right thing right? This month alone we’ve listened to stories of birds being rescued from discarded face masks and read a study that literally puts a countdown on the existence of polar bears on our planet.

At the same time we’ve all crammed some definitely non recyclables into the wrong bin because the main one was overflowing. Forgot to take the bags for life to Aldi so bought a load of single use & who else is stock piling single use plastic gloves & masks like there’s a global pandemic or something?!

So when it comes to wine, how can we all make some more sustainable choices and drink good wine at the same time?

Well wine is a farmed product just like milk, eggs and meat. It is produced by people, with families. Whilst most of us would only consider buying free range eggs, Fair Trade coffee or British farmed meat, we don’t always pay the same attention to the wines that we pick up when we’re out-and-about shopping. The simple answer is, it’s really down to price.

Don’t panic though, we’re not saying that you need to go and buy the most expensive bottles. Actually, there’s actually a sweet spot where the choice you make will a) give you more bang for your buck on the actual liquid inside the bottle and b) mean a far more sustainable purchase for those people behind the production.

Here is a super quick run-down on some stats for your reference…

Duty in the UK on wine is a fixed rate of £2.33 a bottle. Whether that bottle cost £5 or £5,000. So the sad truth is that when the nation hands over its average £6.09 for a bottle of vino only a shameful 94p has gone towards the juice in the bottle and the people that made it. That’s after logistics, packaging, profit for the retailer & our good old friend the tax man. How depressing!

But there’s good news. Spend anything between £8-£10 a bottle & most of all those boring ‘not going to improve my drinking experience’ costs, stay the same. Meaning that the money left over for ‘happy juice’ is 100-200% more! That's right 2 or 3 times as much money spent on what’s actually in the glass.

So it’s simple really, spend a little more, but not much, and the rewards can be huge. From the producer’s perspective too, ask yourself this: How much love, passion & hard work would you put into wine that pays you 94p a bottle compared to wine that pays you £2.70 a bottle? It’s a no brainer right? Plus it allows producers to pay their staff a fair wage for the work they do.

Spending a little more per bottle also allows retailers, like us at Smashed Grapes, to do some other wonderful things where sustainability is concerned. The average bottle of wine has a carbon footprint of about 1.5kg from production to packaging & delivery. On it’s own that’s fairly insignificant (roughly 3 miles driven in a car) but over the course of a year for an individual & as an industry that’s a significant contributor to the problem of CO2 emissions. So what can us retailers do to help combat this?

Firstly our packaging. We’re super excited to be shipping all our wine’s in PulpSafe, made from 100% recycled material. It’s the leading eco alternative to polystyrene & plastic wine packaging which still offers the highest levels of protection.

Even more exciting is our partnership with Ecologi to entirely offset SGs carbon footprint. That’s right, every Smashed Grapes bottle you drink, from it’s production, it’s packaging & it’s shipping will be 100% carbon neutral. How do we achieve this? Planting trees. It’s the simplest & most effective way of Carbon offsetting. It takes 1 newly planted tree to offset the CO2 footprint of 8 delivered Smashed Grapes boxes & that is our commitment. Now & forever, as we grow, so will the SG forest. Thanks to Ecologi it’s that easy. Check out our progress online here, where you can see in real-time the trees and CO2 offset that SG is delivering.

To be clear, this isn’t a ‘look at us’ piece for Smashed Grapes. It’s how we genuinely believe we should be doing business. Thanks to great partnerships like PulpSafe & phenomenal organisations like Ecologi that make doing the right thing easy (and affordable) because we’re only human. Plus vino always goes down smoother with a spoonful of virtue!

Happy drinking,
Smashed Grapes
Check out the Smashed Grapes website at www.smashedgrapes.co.uk