The ethical wine company that makes it easy to drink good wine
Sustainability is the current watchword in wine. As bottle weight and recyclability are increasingly discussed, companies need to at least nod in an environmentally friendly direction or risk falling behind their competition. People are increasingly aware of the impact of their choices on the planet, but buying ethical wine in a sustainable way can be a difficult task to navigate, especially since the term is not standardized across the world. world. Even labels with enduring references change in different countries and regions.
Enter Collectivino, a new company whose goal is solely to provide ethical wines from vineyards using sustainable agricultural practices. Wines are even delivered to customers via pedal bikes or offsetting delivery companies, resulting in a net zero carbon impact from vineyard to table.
Collectivino is the brainchild of best friends since college, Martin Stead and Toby Radcliffe, who each bring their own unique skills. Stead was the CEO of Fintech Nutmeg in the UK and spent seven years at Proctor & Gamble, during which time he launched Oral B toothpaste, although he assures us that when it comes to wine, his palate is a bit more refined. He has spent years in the energy sector striving to get the country to switch to low carbon energy sources. Radcliffe was a passionate planet scientist with a background in raw materials, working in sustainability and corporate strategy, while being a professional Iron Man for five years.
It was during a lock zoom call that they realized they had come to the same conclusion. “I wanted to set something up on my own, not to proxy myself to companies again,” Stead said and Radcliffe agreed. It was time to start something together. “We have always shared an interest in wine, and we drank together on zoom, thinking about what to do. We decided that whatever it was, it had to be two things. It had to do good for the world and be pleasant ”. It seems that this time the answer was really at the bottom of the glass.
Wine has just overtaken beer in the UK as the most drunk alcoholic beverage and a report commissioned by the World of Wine in 2021 found that by 2020, 1,770 million bottles were consumed by the UK public. This equates to nearly four billion tonnes of carbon, or roughly 2.4 million transatlantic flights. “People buy plastic-free, they recycle, they care about the planet, but there isn’t that same conscience when it comes to wine,” says Radcliffe. No one wants to give up wine, so Stead and Radcliffe set out to find a way to allow anyone to drink wine in a sustainable way. It is a “really good wine” in more ways than one.
“If you buy a bottle from us, any bottle, then you know you’re getting taste, quality and durability is non-negotiable,” says Radcliffe. As it can be difficult to qualify what this means in different countries, Collectivino has its own simple 3 point grading system and all wines come from vineyards with environmentally friendly goals and practices.
“We first meet the winegrowers and taste with them. We decide which wines we like and bring samples back to London ”. They then use “beta-tasters” focus groups to refine the wines that make the mark. “In many ways we take the toothpaste approach,” Stead jokes, “but it works, people have different palates and preferences” and Collectivino wants to deliver a range of wines that, regardless of style, get always a seal of approval.
The bottles they offer can be a bit more expensive than those in supermarkets, most retail for £ 15 or more, but as they point out if you buy a £ 10 bottle of wine for under £ 1 , she goes to the vineyard. “This money has to be used for wine making, bottling, workers’ fees, packaging… the actual amount for the wine itself is minimal.” Which leads them enthusiastically to their other quest for integrity in wine consumption.
“A lot of wineries are cutting back on pressure from retailers,” says Stead, “but we meet the wineries, we ask them what’s fair and we pay them. We believe in fair compensation ”. On the other hand, working with independent producers and eliminating the middleman also helps reduce costs for the consumer. It is important to both that the business model protects and helps winemakers and vineyards just as it protects the planet.
“We make the kinds of wines we want to drink, in quality, for the planet, for the people who make wine,” concludes Stead “and we aim to make it easy for the consumer to drink good wine – in every sense of the way. term. the word. “For those who wish to buy wine knowingly, this certainly seems an effective way.
Their bestseller is Plantation 1905 which is a blend of 23 grape varieties, some even unknown, but Oxney’s English sparkling wine is close to their hearts, obtaining the highest score for biodiversity while being a stunning local wine.
Ahead of Christmas, Collectivino is focusing on corporate gifts for companies that want to offer a more lasting thank you to their customers and employees. They offer a range of ethical wine gift boxes from luxurious and brilliant wines, as well as tasting events and a Wine Club membership which delivers 12 bottles of quality wine four times a year.
Libby Zietsman-Brodie is the founder of Bacchus & Brodie, independent wine consultant and co-creator and presenter of Boozy & The Beast: How To Drink Better – an irreverent wine series without the snobbery. Instagram: @a_little_sip_of_me_time