As far as energy is concerned, the stakes for future generations are multiple. From an environmental point of view, the combustion of fossil fuels (petrol, coal, gas) increases the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, accentuating the greenhouse effect. Sustainability also takes into account the availability, over the next few decades, of these non-renewable fossil energies.
Mechanisation in viticulture, as in farming generally, developed during the middle of the 20th century. Quite apart from the direct consumption of energy (tractors, grape harvesting machines, transport), intermediate viticultural products (fertilisers, plant protection products) are also responsible for increased energy consumption.
In the cellars, wine growers often had empirical knowledge of the importance of thermal conditions for wine production. They adopted every possible means of benefiting from natural cold or heat (underground cellars, open during the winter, air vents orientated in relation to exposure or dominant winds). Low winter temperatures were exploited to ensure the tartaric stabilisation of wines. However, wine-making remained very dependent on the immutable cycle of the seasons and on the year’s weather conditions. Recently, qualitative imperatives, the need to ensure the perfect biological and physico-chemical stability of the wines, the shortening in cycles of vinification and the building of cellars at ground level have all contributed to the widespread adoption of thermal applications throughout the wine-making process.
The use of energy and additives, the energy recycling of by-products and waste, the design of buildings and equipment all form part of the environmental and sustainable imperatives of grape production and processing systems.