Carbonanalyzed: Blanquette de Limoux to Berkeley

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Bonnie, the pun Queen from the excellent food blog, The Ethicurean, posted a comment requesting that we analyze the carbon footprint of her Blanquette de Limoux. She rides her bike to her local wine shop in Berkeley, CA to buy the sparkling white wine from the South of France.

We stopped our carbon analysis at the shop or restaurant and didn’t factor in how people get to the store. But there’s no beating the bike for reducing the carbon footprint, Bonnie!

Since she didn’t provide a producer name, which is fine, I’ve crunched the numbers based on a guesstimate rather than a specific case. Here’s the headline finding: Bonnie’s bottle produces just under 2600g of CO2 emissions, about the same as making and trucking a bottle of conventional wine from California to New York. More on the calculations after the jump.

The Blanquette de Limoux doesn’t use oak barrels, so that is a savings. I also assumed that the glass for the bottles was produced 150kms away and driven to the site by truck. Then I assumed organically grown white grapes harvested at 24 brix. The bottle itself is heavier than still wine and I estimated 900g. Then I assumed a 200km truck journey to the port, followed by a 16,000km boat trip via the Panama Canal to Oakland in a non-refrigerated container. I assumed a 50 km truck trip from Oakland to Berkeley.

The lion’s share of the carbon emissions come from the transport (about 1500g). But since almost the entire journey is via container ship, the carbon footprint is not unduly large. Whodathunk? Thanks for the suggestion, Bonnie.

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6 Responses to “Carbonanalyzed: Blanquette de Limoux to Berkeley”


  1. Hopefully Bonnie’s bottle of Blanquette was transported in a reefer (temperature controlled container)… otherwise who knows what it might taste like, or whether it still had bubbles after that long trip through the Panama canal!! It’s certainly less desirable vis-a-vis the carbon footprint, but better for the wine… It’s a dilemma. One thing that might balance it out a bit is that usually, depending on where they are going of course, wines from southern France are shipped directly out of a Mediterranean port like Fos-sur-Mer, and not put on a truck that traverses Spain. It certainly depends though, and it makes one think!!


  2. Hi Amy,

    Thanks for the comment. Yes, perhaps it was reefer shipped and it certainly is better for the wine. If so, Bonnie’s bottle of Blanquette (alliteration!) would have 400g extra CO2e.

    And, yes, I calculated the wine to leave from a port in the south of France, not traverse Iberia by truck as the map misleadingly indicates. (those pesky maps!)


  3. Thanks Dr. V! Very intresting. Not sure I feel so good about it that total, given all the choices I have here in near, dear California wine regions.

    I should have told you the producer name, sorry. I thought you were omniscient. Delmas Cuvee Berlene 2004. A cheapie but I think very tasty. Has always had plenty of bubbles, btw, so I guess I can thank a reefer, which makes me feel even guiltier…


  4. [...] has been quaffing a lot lately … and will probably continue to do so, only with more guilt. (Dr Vino) File under Digest, Farm Bill, News, Markets, Fruits & vegetables.     [...]


  5. Great stuff! Many thanks. I have long assumed, incorrectly, that my beloved French wines get here via much less earth-friendly methods than do Oregon wines, in so far as greenhouse gases are concerned.

    Still, with regard to your paper, I’d be interested in a more apples-to-apples comparison, as most people do not order Napa cabs direct via overnight air. How would an organically- and dry-farmed 2005 Volnay stack up to its like-farmed Oregon Pinot equivalent, assuming each are shipped to Chicago retail stores in refrigerated units? I wonder since the former region is much further from an Atlantic port than, say, Loire or Bordeaux.


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