What it means to be a 'Sustainable' wine shop

What it means to be a 'Sustainable' wine shop

'Sustainability' is a word that gets thrown around a lot. Ellen Doggett unpacks what we do to try and make our shop as sustainable as possible, and how sustainability works in relation to the producers we work with.

Sustainability is a word that’s thrown around a lot in the wine trade, but what does it really mean in relation to a business?

For us, sustainability isn’t just in the wines we sell – though I will get to that – it’s also in how we work, ship and manage our shop.

What’s in the box?

When you open a box of delicious wine from us, you’ll notice that the packaging inside is a bit different than your usual run-of-the-mill wine case.

The internal packaging elements are called PulpSafe and are made from 100% recycled materials, which can also be easily recycled and are biodegradable. They also provide a great level of protection, so reduce the environmental impact of breakages significantly (we’ve sent hundreds of boxes out with minimal issues). They’re also lighter than other secure options which helps reduce the environmental impact of transportation.

The outer box is made from 85% recycled material and can also be fully recycled. We chose to move onto using non-coloured boxes (brown cardboard) as this requires less chemicals to produce, and they are printed using vegetable-based inks.

The tape we use to seal your box is printed using soya ink and uses a natural rubber for adhesion which means it’s 100% recyclable and biodegradable.

And those lovely packing slips with the outline of your order? That paper is also made from 100% recycled material. Our gift wrap takes things up a notch too, with all the tissue we use being recyclable, acid-free and printed using a soy based ink.

When we pack and repack orders, there is naturally a bit of cardboard waste that emerges. We are very conscious that a lot of ‘recycling’ programmes can end up in landfill, which is why we work with First Mile. This way we receive a report of where our waste goes, and how effectively it is recycled – currently we have a 100% recycle rate!

What’s in the bottle?

It’s very important for us to work with likeminded winemakers, producing wines in a way that’s good for the planet as much as its good for the soul. For us, sustainability in wine comes in many forms. The wine world as a whole (us included) talk a lot about the sustainability of farming vines and making wine, but often overlook other facets like economic and social sustainability.

We aim to always work with wines that have been made as sustainably as possible. Producers who treat the planet and vines with respect and do everything in their power to make wines in a way that supports Mother Nature. We don’t require a wine to have certifications to list them, as often attaining these certificates -organic/biodynamic etc - is a complex and expensive process. The relationship we’ve cultivated with producers allows us to have confidence in how they work, without needing the papers to back it up. We know them as individuals, speak to them, experience their passion and working methods.

“The wine has to taste ‘real’ and not obviously made or manufactured. I’m looking for freshness, balance, drinkability, character and a wine that is a pleasure to consume. More often than not these wines come from growers who are focusing predominantly on their vineyards, to produce healthy fruit, often farmed organically or biodynamically. If you are travelling to the vineyards, experience tells you if it is a happy and healthy place, and that is usually transferred into the liquid itself.”

- Ben Henshaw, Founder of The Sourcing Table


Social sustainability is also very important to us. Winemaking is an industry that requires a lot of manpower, and the human element is one we try to consider as much as the environmental one. We aim to work with producers who care as much for their community and employees as their vines. Sustainability has many facets, and we try to take them all into consideration when deciding producers to work with and wines to offer our lovely customers. Great wines we love to drink, made by great people who are dedicated to sustainability and leaving the world better than they found it.