Backsberg’s ‘green’ wine

first_imgThe first step in Backsberg’s green wineinitiative was a carbon audit, whichassessed the amount of CO2 producedfrom all winery activities, from vineyardto bottle. Michael Back, proprietor of BacksbergWine Cellars and environment nut. Vineyard planting systems have beenadapted to reduce the number of woodenpoles needed. A selection of carbon-neutral Backsbergwines.(Images: Backsberg)Susan de BruinRed or white wine? At South Africa’s Backsberg Wine Cellars there’s another choice: green. That’s because Backsberg has become one of only five wine producers in the world making carbon-neutral wines.Carbon neutrality means all the carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere in the wine-making process is balanced by planting trees to absorb the equivalent amount of CO2 from the atmosphere. The other four carbon-neutral estates are Grove Mill Winery in New Zealand, Parducci Winery in California, ConoSur in Chile and Elderton Wines in Australia.Backsberg, which lies between Paarl and Stellenbosch in the Western Cape, is owned by Michael Back. Known as something of an “environment nut” on the estate, Back began his green wine initiative in 2004.“Care for the environment means care and concern for succeeding generations,” he says. “As custodians of the land, it is our duty to understand and recognise potential threats, and to mitigate against them for the benefit of the next generation.”The first step was a carbon audit, to assess the amount of CO2 produced from all winery activities, from vineyard to bottle – its “carbon footprint”.A carbon technician measured everything from electricity and fuel consumption to grape fermentation and transport of wine bottles to local and international destinations. Each activity was then calculated to produce a specific amount of CO2. The entire process followed the strict guidelines set out by the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emission.From the audit results, the carbon technician calculated the number of trees that should be planted every year to absorb the same amount of CO2 Backsberg produced in that year. This is known as “offsetting”.Backsberg then enlisted the help of South African non-profit organisation Food and Trees for Africa (FTFA). In 2006 FTFA was honoured with the Chevron Conservation Award in California for improving the quality of life for disadvantaged South Africans by planting 2.5-million trees.FTFA and the estate began a village greening programme in nearby Klapmust, an impoverished village that is home to the surrounding wine farms’ seasonal workers. The Klapmust community took the more than 900 trees on a voluntary basis, trees the estate continually monitors to ensure they remain alive and continue to keep Backsberg’s carbon offset in balance. On the estate itself, 3 442 additional trees have been planted over the last 10 years.All these trees finally won Backsberg classification as a Carbon Neutral Estate in 2006, with the right to display the “Carbon Neutral Approved” logo on its bottles. To keep its classification, Backsberg is required to submit a carbon audit every year.Package of green ideasBut Back wanted to do more than simply get a logo on his bottles. A committed environmentalist, he was determined to reduce the estate’s carbon footprint as much as possible. The estate now employs a fulltime environmental consultant to look at all aspects of the business and assess how they could be done in a more environment-friendly way.The estate now has a package of creative green ideas. All farm vehicles and tractors are run on biofuels made from recycled vegetable oil, and the large fuel-guzzling tractors have been traded for smaller ones. The estate now generates its own energy from solar power, and is looking at wind power. Energy demand has been reduced by implementing timers, low-energy bulbs and skylights.The old hot-water “donkey” system, last used over a half a century ago, has been reintroduced, using waste wood to heat the water for washing barrels. Vineyard planting systems have been adapted to reduce the number of wooden poles needed.Back has also reserved 10% of the estate for conservation of the natural habitat, some 40 hectares of Swartland alluvium fynbos. This delicate fynbos environment, one of only a few left in the area, will never be cultivated, even though it might hold soils suitable for more vines.Good economic senseBacksberg remains the only carbon-neutral wine producer in South Africa. But according to John Spiers, chief executive of the estate, other South African winemakers are increasingly interested in environment-friendly production. He said Backsberg’s green initiatives were fairly inexpensive, and will save money in the long term. “It makes good economic sense if you look at where the fuel and energy prices are going,” he says.More than this, Backsberg exports 35% to 40% of its wine to the US, UK and Europe. Recent market feedback from Wines of South Africa (Wosa), which markets South African wine internationally, indicated that the British, American and especially the German markets seek environmentally responsible products. “These three destinations want products that are not only linked to social issues, but also environmentally responsible,” says Andre Morgenthal, Wosa communications manager.Spiers believes it is still early days for the carbon neutral logo to play a deciding role in the minds of the international consumer. But he adds: “In future it will become very important, and then we will definitely benefit from it.”Useful linksBacksberg Wine CellarsFood and Trees for AfricaWines of South Africalast_img read more

Harness The Cloud For Small Business

first_imgChances are, you already use the cloud in some area of your life. Whether it’s storing photos from your phone or listening to streaming music, cloud has quickly become essential to modern life. Yet many small businesses are still using antiquated processes to store and share their files. As digital data grows, those systems are no longer adequate.Benefits of cloud migration can be significant, including lower office expenses and increased efficiency, but there’s a lot of confusion around getting started. Check out the info below to build a strong foundation for your small business cloud.What Is Cloud Storage?The cloud is a network of servers that handles data remotely. A cloud network can store data — like all those images we upload to Facebook — or serve up applications for streaming services like Spotify.The most immediate benefit of using the cloud is easy access. Salesforce sums it up nicely: “Where in the past, people would run applications or programs from software downloaded on a physical computer or server in their building, cloud computing allows people to access the same kinds of applications through the internet.”How Can the Cloud Help Small Business?Storing data in the cloud gives small business employees the ability to work from anywhere. You might be giving a PowerPoint presentation to a potential client downtown while an analyst compiles a weekly report from home and someone in the office enters data. Whatever the scenario, you’re all accessing the same data in real time. The cloud boosts efficiency by keeping all your files in the same place and accessible from anywhere.Not only is that data readily available, but working in the cloud also reduces the need for expensive IT hardware and on-site software. Employees just need a computer to access a variety of services such as video conferencing, mobile and internet convergence, data sharing, integrated messaging, and software that was previously only available with the purchase of a license. Cloud-based software is also constantly updated, so you’re always using the latest version.Another significant benefit of moving small business services to the cloud is the ability to scale. When you need more processing power or data storage, it’s easy to expand without changing hardware — and without the unproductive downtime that usually comes with an IT upgrade.Cloud Options and Where to StartCloud computing has reached a level of maturity that makes it accessible to small business, but the host of options can be overwhelming. Start by researching some of the best cloud services for small businesses. Most fall into categories, so you can choose based on your needs:Communications and commerce-based toolsSecurity and network monitoringFinancial toolsIt’s important to vet cloud service providers before adopting one, just as you would any other service provider. Consider a few key elements when looking for an online storage provider, including proven infrastructure and an active, established user base.When assessing a provider, take a look at the company’s security measures as well. Many small business owners report being concerned about the security of remotely accessed cloud-based systems. However, broad scrutiny, higher standards, and ongoing audits result in a more secure cloud overall. Small businesses can do their part to maintain data security by ensuring tight permissions, and by identifying risks in the office.You can find more tips on cloud adoption — as well as resources specific to small business — by visiting our Small Business Hub. And to join the conversation, be sure to follow @IntelSmallBiz on Twitter.last_img read more