Growing For Good A LIGHTER FOOTPRINT

Carbon & climate

Spier is committed to reducing our carbon footprint as much as possible, and offsetting the rest, to align with the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. We have set, committed to and registered with Science-Based Targets Initiative and their FLAG (Forest, Land and Agriculture) Goals.

G4 G Carbon Solar Wine Tasting
In 2014, we began calculating the carbon emissions generated by our direct operations using a carbon calculator. The Confronting Climate Change Initiative has recognised Spier as one of the Carbon Heroes of the SA fruit and wine industries for reporting our carbon footprint for at least three consecutive years.

Our Carbon Journey

Play Our Carbon Journey

30%

By 2017, we had slashed our greenhouse gas emissions derived from electrical consumption by this amount compared to 2009 levels.

283 622 kWh

The amount of electricity generated by our farm’s 9 solar installations from July 2022 – June 2023

17x

High-density grazing at Spier results in carbon being sequestered more than 17 times faster than normal pasture grazing

116 tons

During 2021 we have saved 116 tons of carbon through carbon reduction strategies in our cellar.

A HOLISTIC APPROACH

OUR JOURNEY TO NET ZERO ALIGNMENT

Our carbon footprint takes into account the carbon emissions from our direct operations, our energy consumption as well as our entire value chain (including suppliers and customers).

The following areas of focus underpin our journey to net zero aligned emission goals

ENERGY

We have worked hard to reduce our energy consumption through energy-saving methods and devices. As a result, by 2017, we had reduced our greenhouse gas emissions derived from electrical consumption by 30% based on 2009 levels. Currently, our farm benefits from nine solar installations, which generated over 283 622 kWh from July 2022 – June 2023, thus decreasing emissions by 108 910.85 kg CO2 annually. As energy is responsible for roughly 80% of our carbon emissions, we continue exploring ways to expand our generation of renewable energy sources in the coming years.

WASTE

Typically, making something with recycled instead of raw materials consumes much less energy (and therefore results in fewer carbon emissions). Secondly, waste in landfills results in the release of planet-warming methane as it decomposes, so the less that goes to landfill, the better.

By 2011 we had been consistently recycling 85% of our solid waste. More recently, we have sent 0% of our waste to landfills. Between 95-98% is recycled and the balance is sent to a waste-to-energy plant. In the twelve months to May 2022, our recycling and recovery efforts resulted in 62 301kg less CO2 equivalent in the atmosphere.

CARBON-RICH SOILS

Vegetation in biodiverse habitats sucks carbon out of the air and stores it in the earth. In 2012, the Spier Nursery was established to clear water-thirsty alien vegetation and propagate and plant “water-wise” indigenous species. In the ensuing decade, it planted over 100,000 different trees, shrubs and fynbos and over a million bulbs. On the farm, these newly replanted tracts of indigenous vegetation and previously existing renosterveld vegetation, are conserved.

Regenerative agriculture methods can also increase levels of carbon in the soil. This is important because higher levels of carbon in soil improve water retention. For example, a 2% increase in organic matter (carbon) in the soil doubles the water-holding capacity of the soil. Increased water retention makes farmland more resilient during drought and makes irrigation more efficient (you can use less water to irrigate healthy, carbon-rich soils because more of it is being retained).

In 2008 Farmer Angus McIntosh began farming at Spier, using regenerative and biodynamic methods which promote biodiversity, restore soil health and sequester carbon. Farmer Angus plants a diverse assortment of cover crops like oats mixed with vetch (a member of the pea family) between our vines. A tractor and roller flatten the crops, pushing nitrogen back into the soil and creating a dense carpet; we add compost and even feathers to create a nutrient-rich mulch that boosts soil carbon levels. Not only does this preserve the water in the soil more effectively, but this method also prevents weeds (which compete with the vines for water) from sprouting.

Our herd of over 300 cattle graze in a concentrated space for short periods – a method known as high-density grazing. They are moved twice a day, munching on 12.5 tons of vegetation per hectare. 4250 laying hens also graze the pastures and are moved daily. The hens eat as much grass as 100 cattle.

Carbon auditor firm C4ES, which audited 74 hectares of pasture at Spier, has calculated that high-density grazing results in carbon being sequestered more than 17 times faster than normal pasture grazing. According to soil analyses, high-density grazing has resulted in cumulative net sequestration of 15,886 tonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2020. (Find out how high-density grazing results in carbon being sequestered faster on our blog.)

At Spier, we believe in sharing the insights we’ve gained from developing healthy, carbon-rich soils on our own farm so that others in the industry may also benefit. We will be working with grape growers on methods to improve soil health and sequester carbon. This will:

• Increase vineyards’ soil water retention, promoting drought resiliency
• Improve the consistency and quality of the grapes
• Allow the farmers to sell certified carbon credits (giving them a new income stream)


Explore our initiatives

Spier G4 G waste sorting 400 x 400

Teaching the value of waste

100% of our organic waste is transformed into organic, nutrient-rich fertiliser and more than 97% of our solid waste is recycled.

G4 G Eagle Encounters 720X400

Conserving wildlife through education

Spier supports Eagle Encounters by donating land, electricity and water for its facilities.

G4 G Food Garden Team 724x703

A new generation of growers takes root

In our food gardens, Megan McCarthy teaches members of disadvantaged local communities how to grow food using eco-friendly and regenerative techniques.

G4 G Love the Land

Agents of change

Because each employee is an ambassador for Spier and its values, every new member of our team participates in a five-day training course that explores environmental and social challenges.

G4 G ILS Tyson Meyi SQ

Individual Learning Spend

Facilitating the personal development and wellbeing of our staff

G4 G Pinotage Yda 720X720

Skills development

Spier is a participating employer in the Pinotage Youth Development Academy which seeks to educate and employ disadvantaged youth in the wine industry.

G4 G Treepreneurs seedlings 724x703

Tree-preneurs

Living in some of the province’s most impoverished communities, Tree-preneurs are taught how to care for indigenous trees and plants.

G4 G Harambee 720X720

Harambee youth employment accelerator

Spier recruits entry-level staff through Harambee, an initiative that sources, trains and places unemployed young people from disadvantaged backgrounds into their first jobs.

Vlottenburg Primary DSC02980 724x703

Pack for a purpose

Pack for a Purpose invites visitors to Spier to fill spare space in their luggage with much-needed books, stationery and other educational supplies for disadvantaged young students

G4 G Living Soils Harvest 724x703

Living Soils Community Learning Farm

Based at Spier, this learning and demonstration farm produces nutritious food using eco-friendly regenerative farming methods while empowering a new generation of farmers.

Mosaic Studio 10

Art

A Living Tribute to Contemporary South African Art

G4 G Wastewater yin yang 724x703

Reducing and reusing water

100% of Spier’s black and grey wastewater is recycled using a centralised wastewater treatment plant installed in 2007.

Ethical Sourcing IMG 4704 703x703

An ethical supply chain

We ensure integrity throughout our supply chain by monitoring the agreed commitments in our Spier Supplier Ethical Code of Conduct, which includes compliance with all relevant labour, health and safety and environmental legislation.

Feathers in the vineyards DSC09217

Nurturing nature

Our land is holistically farmed to create a diversified, balanced ecosystem with minimal impact on the environment.

G4 G Sustainability Nursery 724x703

The Spier Nursery

The Spier Nursery was established to propagate and grow indigenous trees and plants that are specific to the region to re-introduce these onto the farm.