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Maximising sustainability

Aiming for €1m turnover in their second year as French wine distributors, Mickaël and Camille Alborghetti explain how they have implemented extensive eco-friendly measures across their wine production and distribution…

 

Mickaël Alborghetti: “For a while, I had been wondering how to make the wine business more considerate of the environment”

Maximising sustainability
  • Chris Boiling
  • 2021-04-06
Bordeaux-based wine merchants Mickaël and Camille Alborghetti have demonstrated how to maximise sustainability at every step of the wine journey with their range of French wines.
Sourced from producers in Pays d’Oc, Camargue, Loire Valley, Bordeaux and Champagne, the wines in the EthicDrinks portfolio are organic, biodynamic or certified sustainable. They are also certified vegan. 
The packaging is sustainable, too. The business, which had a turnover of €400,000 last year, uses natural cork stoppers, vegetable glue for wine labels made from recyclable paper, and easier-to-recycle dark-glass bottles for all but its rosés – “because buyers don’t want this kind of bottle for rosé, they want to see the colour for the moment,” according to Camille. “But we are working on more options in the future. We are also working on wine in cans.”
From next year, the wines will be transported from Breton to export markets such as the UK using a cargo sailboat from TOWT (Transport à la voile), which is using heritage sailboats on historic maritime routes.
EthicDrinks’ other green credentials include:

  • Offsetting all emissions with the replanting of 2ha of Saint Emilion forest;
  • Abandoning the use of capsules;
  • Using hemp ties to secure the Champagne stopper instead of wire cages;
  • Cuvées that pay tribute to environmental causes and support charities such as WWF, Reforest’Action and SurfRider.
Camille added: “We are 100% CO2 free, vegan and zero plastic for the company. Our employees are sensitized, committed to causes such as beach cleaning, for example, and we educate them to eat less meat.”

Cam et Mik
Camille and husband Mickaël (above) founded EthicDrinks in 2019 “to make the wine world more responsible” and to offer consumers “the best ecological footprint in wine”, Mickaël said ahead of next month’s launch in the UK.
With the strapline ‘Cheers to the Planet,’ Mickaël and Camille are targeting UK supermarkets and major online grocery retailers during the first phase of expansion. Other target markets will include North Europe, USA and Japan.
EthicDrinks’ offer includes branded wines and own-label SKUs for the off-trade made from classic French grapes, such as Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Shocked by the plastic he saw on beaches in Bali during a holiday in 2019, Mickaël quit his job and set up his own company with his wife. Grandson of a Burgundian winegrower and the son of an environmental activist, Mickaël – a trained agricultural engineer – aspired to join the wine sector, which he believed was lacking in innovation. Some months later, Mickaël founded EthicDrinks with Camille (also an agricultural engineer) to maximise sustainability at every step of the wine journey – from the vineyard to the winery and retail shelves.
Mickaël commented: “For a while, I had been wondering how to make the wine business more considerate of the environment. Our industry needs to address this head-on and get innovative. That’s what we are doing at EthicDrinks – we are a first in the wine sector.”

Ethnicwines
EthicDrinks, which now employs eight people, buys bulk volumes of officially certified environmentally friendly wine from all over France to create “fresh, young, and bright” blends, which are bottled in-house and marketed under different brands. These brands include Act for Good, Merveille de vignes (Wonder of vines), Sous L’ocean, Biodiversité, Wine to Tree and Don’t Break My Ice, where the label features a cartoon drawing of a sunglass-wearing seal enjoying a glass of wine on the last part of a melting iceberg.
Already available in more than 210 V&B cellar and bar concept stores in France, the start-up is launching into 700 French Monoprix stores this spring with three organic lines of red, white and rosé wine, all under EthicDrinks’ Biodiversité label. “We have good organic wines including our new brand, Sous L’Ocean, that do good for the planet and they are at attractive prices,” Mickaël stated. “At EthicDrinks, we are limiting the environmental footprint of our corporation. It’s a challenge to create brands that – from the bottle, the capping, the label and even the transport – have the minimum impact on the environment. But as we aim for €1m turnover this year, the challenge is as bold as it is worthwhile.”
Mickaël also observed that EthicDrinks has benefited from an increasing thirst for organic wines. “The consumption of organic wine increased by 10% in 2020,” he said, adding: “Organic growers are more than pleased to work with us because we are a merchant embracing sustainability in every part of our supply chain. Our young company is positioned around a growth sector.”

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