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Producers told to 'make less wine' to help fight climate change

Published:  13 April, 2011

The owner of New Zealand's Felton Road winery has called on producers to "make less wine" as part of the solution to climate change problems.

Nigel Greening, speaking at the Climate Change and Wine Conference in Marbella, organised by the Wine Academy of Spain, called on the industry not to ignore "the elephant in the room".

"As fast as we can make improvements in efficiencies, growth eats them up," he said.

Five years ago Greening took the difficult decision not to make any more wines at his estate. "We could sell double what we produce, but I've drawn a line in the sand and I'm never going to go over it."

He said the biggest thing that producers can do to help against climate change is "to stop putting more vines in the ground".

"I'm not saying we shouldn't strive to do better wines, but we shouldn't strive to do more."

Greening said that family firms should lead the charge when it comes to cutting production: "Family wineries have a perspective which spans generations, compatible with that of vineyards and not driven by shareholders' wrath. In short they can use the word, forbidden in board rooms, 'enough'."

This morning's other speakers included Paul Symington, head of Symington Family Estates; Steve Smit, vice president of vineyards and grape management for Constellation Wines USA and Joao de Lima, the director of the Climate Project Spain, set up by Al Gore.

This evening 800 people are expected to attend the keynote address by Kofi Annan on the responsibilities the business community has towards sustainability.

You can follow up-to-the-minute news updates from the conference via Twitter @HarpersWine.