“There are many people in Backsberg who have a much heightened awareness that this is what I believe in, and that this is the way that I want the company to move.” He added that whenever any new project is considered at Backsberg, the thinking is shaped by this stance.
But despite the success achieved thus far, Mr Back belives there is still a long way to go. “There are some fundmental things that we have changed, and once you’ve initiated the change, then the rest takes about 20 years to follow,” he said. “For example, we don’t plant new vineyards all that regularly, so it takes a long time to follow through.
Turning to the impact of the programme on Backsberg’s market he said: “I can’t say that we’re selling vast quantities of additional wine because we have taken this route.
What I do think has happened, is that people recognise that we’re thinking in this space and they recognise that we are one of the entities out there that try to make a difference.” He added that the decision to pursue carbon neutrality, was taken not because of its potential to increase sales, but because it was the right thing to do.
He noted that other wine estates are also beginning to implement programmes to lighten their carbon footprint. “I think that there is an increased awareness out there. I’ve adopted a very open door approach, so if anybody wants to ask me what to do, they’re free to ask me. I’m not putting myself out there as a consultant or an advisor, but if you ask me my opinion, or how to think through something then if I can help, I’m happy to do so. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in mining or in agriculture.”
Other estates recognised at the awards ceremony are Villiera Estate for “embracing renewable energy by using solar power to run its cellar, and for converting green waste into natural compost-soil” and Bartinney Private Cellar for “planting indigenous trees amongst their vineyards… use of a gravity fed, man-made wetland to treat waste water from their water efficient cellar and use of carbon neutral corks for the (2011) harvest.”
Mr Back concluded by saying: “We’re trying hard to make it part of the culture, and I’m not saying that it’s there yet. It takes more than a generation for people to behave differently. People have habits and sometimes it’s hard to break them. You can’t do it in a way that people feel threatened; they must buy into the philosophy. When I talk about the next generation, I mean we’re not just doing it for ourselves we’re doing it for our kids.”
Backsberg Estate Cellars in Klapmuts near Paarl, was recently recognised for the strides the iconic estate has made since achieving carbon neutral status in 2006. In its ongoing pursuit of reduced carbon emissions, Backsberg has introduced a white and a red wine blend under the “Tread Lightly” label, bottled in a lightweight plastic bottle.