Ship or Truck Transport Makes All the Difference in Wine's Carbon Footprint

wine bottles photo

If you live in New York City, French wines beat out Californians by a wide margin in terms of carbon footprint. Photo: Dr Wendy Longo via flickr

There's no link yet for the online version, but the print version May issue of National Geographic features a cool article on the carbon footprint of wine. Though not authors of the article, the heavy lifting on the carbon calculations was done by Tyler Colman of DrVino and TreeHugger contributer Pablo Paster, and the results are very interesting:Transporting that wine to you by truck or ship really changes the carbon footprint of your glass of Pinot. Breaking it down by wines from Australia, California, Chile, and France, and sending them to Los Angeles, Chicago or New York City yielded these carbon footprints for each 750 ml glass bottle.

French Wine Best for East Coast USA
If you live in New York your options, best to worst, are:
Bordeaux, France (which are shipped via ship) = 0.3 pounds of CO2 equivalent
Santiago, Chile (also sent by ship) = 0.4 pounds
Sydney, Australia (ship, again) = 0.9 pounds
Napa, California (driven by truck) = 4.4 pounds

Claret or Chileans Top Chicago Choice
In Chicago here's how wine's carbon footprint breaks down (it's ship and then truck for all of them, except California which is all truck):
French wines = 1.5 pounds of CO2 equivalent
Chilean wines = 1.6 pounds
Australian wines = 2.1 pounds
Californian wines = 3.2 pounds

California's Conundrum
Chilean wines (very) slightly better than Californian:
Chilean wines = 0.5 pounds of CO2 equivalent
Californian or Australian wines = 0.6 pounds
French wines = 3.0 pounds

There are one thing I take away from this: Sending things by ship over long distances is pretty darn efficient (even if still quite polluting)—to the degree that sending a bottle of wine from Chile or Australia to Los Angeles by ship has similar emissions that driving it in a truck the 430 miles from Napa to Southern California.

I even imagine that sending that California wine to New York via ship, by way of the Panama canal may very well beat out driving it in a truck. Though perhaps sending it by train across the US would beat both.

An even better option: Drinking wine made even more locally to you than Napa is to Los Angeles.

via: Dr Vino
Transportation, Carbon Emissions
Slow Freight: Sail Power Doesn't Need a Cast of Thousands
"Just 15 of the world's biggest ships emit as much pollution as all the world's 760m cars"
Commercial Shipping Particle Air Pollution = Half That From All the Cars in the World
How to Go Green: Wine
Bask in the Warm Glow Of Wine, Without Warming the World
Getting Green Wines From 4 Great Wine Regions

Related Content on