Using sustainable development actions to promote the relevance of mountain wines in export markets

Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (WCED, 1987). For the business community, sustainability is more than mere window-dressing. By adopting sustainable practices, companies can gain a competitive edge, increase their market share, and boost shareholder value (IISD, 2013). The wine industry has incorporated sustainability into its business strategy for a long time. In the USA, several industry organizations promoted its adoption by both grape growers and winemakers. In mountain wine regions, sustainability becomes more important as these regions generally struggle with reduced competitiveness due to inherent difficulties such as accessibility, remoteness, sparseness of business and population, topography and pedoclimatology (EUROMONTANA 2005). Therefore, any improvement in sustainability is a key factor for the viability of mountain wine producers. Sogrape Vinhos farms 480 ha of mountain vineyards in DWR securing the quality base of grapes for its SANDEMAN Port and CASA FERREIRINHA Douro wines. The company continuously adopted sustainable practices across the whole value chain, from grape to glass. This paper illustrates how a simple, but comprehensive, sustainability assessment, as proposed by a US-based award, can be used to monitor and improve sustainable development practices for a wine business set in an adverse environment, while raising awareness in a key market for wines produced in a mountain vineyard area such as the DWR.