So here are the stats for 2020: Between 15 million to 18 million hectares of forest were destroyed, with 2,400 trees felled every minute; over 30 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide were dumped into the atmosphere, and in Louisiana, the vacation-hub of Grand Isle experienced a 7.93mm annual increase of sea level rise, more than double the global average.
And if numbers like that make you zone out, Tim Persson feels for you. He’s also doing something about it, one glass of wine at a time.
“You read about things like climate change or habitat destruction and people disengage,” he admits, and with more than a little empathy. “It’s overwhelming, and the scale of the issue can leave us feeling helpless.”
Chairman of The Hess Collection winery, Persson brainwaved with the National Forest Foundation (NFF) to create the Pour One, Plant One program, designed to help rebuild forests around the country: each bottle of Hess Select wines sold throughout the year contributes towards the planting of 25,000 trees in the 154 national forests across the United States, which are frequently tapped for logging (and that’s perfectly legal; a national forest isn’t nearly as hands-off as a national park). But be it the timber industry or wildfires — which are increasing — woodlands take a century to recover naturally from a clearing; replanting schemes are vital to their existence.
So how does Pour One, Plant One work? Person explains: “Every time somebody buys Hess Select Wine, from the proceeds we contribute one dollar into the program. The NFF then matches that. Every one dollar we give generates a two-dollar return. So if you buy a $10 chardonnay, one dollar of that generates two dollar’s worth of benefit.”
When selecting their wine lists, eco-thinking bars and restaurants are frequently turning to vineyards that are equally Earth-conscious, and Pour One, Plant One reflects the rising favor among consumers for sustainable agriculture. Many wineries have taken the hint; to battle a plague of snails, the Vergenoegd Wine Estate in South Africa unleashed a gone-viral army of ducks with a penchant for escargot. The St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery in Napa runs on 80 percent solar power, and 100 percent reclaimed water. Also in Napa, Trefethen uses bats to keep insects under control. Did you know a group of bats is called a cauldron?
For Persson, Pour One, Plant One is just the latest piece in a much larger, greener picture. In 2008, The Hess Collection, located in very ecologically forward California, was among the first 10 wineries to receive certification as a Napa Green Winery, an umbrella program recognizing growers with solid Earth-friendly initiatives in place such as soil preservation, water conservation, and energy generation. Hess uses goats for winter weed control, and even took some of its acreage out of production because the inclination promoted erosion.
“Our founder, Donald Hess, had a saying, ‘Nurture the land, return what you take,’” Persson recalls. “If the land is what feeds us and pays your salary, you have the highest motivation to make sure that it is kept healthy.”
Earth Day is April 22, and while the day brings into focus environmental problems and issues that are myriad, so, too, does it highlight the answers and options. Change starts with action. And that action can be as easy as buying a bottle of wine.