In this day of tetra-paks, mylar bags, even thinner glass for bottles, let’s look at the original environmentally friendly wine accessory – the cork. A lot has been said in recent years about cork closures for wine bottles and sometime strong feeling are evoked. People have heard that cork is endangered, that it causes TCA (trichloroanisole, cork taint), that harvesting cork kills trees.
I recently had the opportunity to talk with Patrick Spenser, Director of the Cork Forest Conservation Alliance, a non-profit group based in Oregon dedicated to the preservation and protection of cork forests. In Boston we have the Arnold Arboretum with a speciman Quercus Suber – Cork Oak. I was always fascinated by it. This was an opportunity to dig in and learn more.
The cork oak grows only in seven Mediterranean countries – Portugal, Italy, Spain, France, Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia. Over 300,000 tons are harvested (stripped) per year. Harvest takes place in the late spring through early summer. Over 60% of all harvested cork comes from Portugal. Over 100,000 people are employed in cork harvesting. Some entire communities in Africa derive a sustainable annual income from the cork harvest.
Important things to know about cork:
- Cork is a sustainable product that is both renewable and recyclable
- It is the bark of the tree that is stripped (harvested) for use as bottle closures (70%), flooring and insulation products, as well as convertion into energy
- Cork trees are never cut down
- They live more than 200 years
- It takes 25 years for a new tree to see its first harvest
- Cork is the only tree that regenerates stripped bark
- It takes 9-12 years for stripped back to be ready for harvest again
The first two harvests of a new cork oak are not suitable for use as a bottle closure. These harvests provide cork primarily for the building trade. It is desireable for its compressibility, insulation and fireproof properties, as well as its resistance to abrasion.
As for TCA, or cork taint as it is known, present in noticable levels in a bottle of wine imparts a musty odor somewhat like wet cardboard or paper. It is not harmful but does ruin the wine. It occurs in less than 1% of wines with cork closure.
Cork trees stripped of their bark absorb and store enormous amounts of CO2, give off more O2, and protect the great biodiversity that inhabit their forests. According to the World Wildlife Fund:
Cork oak forests support one of the highest levels of biodiversity among forest habitats, as well as the highest diversity of plants found anywhere in the world.
In cork oak landscapes, plant diversity can reach 135 species every square metre; many have aromatic, culinary, or medicinal value.
The Cork Forest Conservation Alliance wants you to know that 24x more greenhouse gasses are emitted, and 10x more energy is spent to make just one screwcap wine bottle closure. Synthetic closures are made primarily from petro chemicals, are not biodegradable, and are rarely recycled. Cork trees are not endangered. They live long, protected lives and are nurtured in many places by generations of the same families.
While I have no personal beef with the artificial closure or screwcap manufacturers beyond their increased carbon footprint I hope you will see more than the romance of popping a cork in your continued support of wines that use the cork closure. We can all feel good about supporting such a sustainable product, don’t you think?
Pingback: Cork - The Argument for Sustainability | Γονείς σε Δράση
Pingback: Wine Bloggers Conference Post #2 – Bedazzled for a Moment but Back On Track | winingways
great points altogether, you just gained a new reader. What would you suggest in regards to your post that you made some days ago? Any positive?
Digital SLR Reviews
Pingback: Uncork It! Drink the Wine, Save the Cork… « Sheila Zeller Interiors
Very fantastic information can be found on blog . “The quality of an organization can never exceed the quality of the minds that make it up.” by Harold R. McAlindon.
Hello, i think that i saw you visited my website thus i came to “return the favor”.I am attempting to find things to enhance my web site!I suppose its ok to use some of your ideas!!
I am thoroughly convinced in this said post. I am currently searching for ways in which I could enhance my knowledge in this said topic you have posted here. It does help me a lot knowing that you have shared this information here freely. I love the way the people here interact and shared their opinions too. I would love to track your future posts pertaining to the said topic we are able to read.
Ive been meaning to read this and just never got a chance. Its an issue that Im very interested in, I just started reading and Im glad I did. Youre a fantastic blogger, 1 of the finest that Ive seen. This weblog certainly has some details on topic that I just wasnt aware of. Thanks for bringing this stuff to light.
I’m still learning from your blog, but I’m trying to achieve my goals. I certainly enjoy reading all that is posted on your blog.Keep the information coming and keep up the good work. I loved it!
WONDERFUL Post.thanks for share..extra wait ..
Very nice and informative website! Plenty of helpful information. I was hoping for this.Thanks for sharing! property greece
After study a few of the blog posts on your website now, and I truly like your way of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back soon. Pls check out my web site as well and let me know what you think.
Very nice and informative portal! A lot of helpful info. We were hoping for this.Thanks for sharing! seo
Very good and trustwothy website! Plenty of helpful info. I was looking for this.Thank you for sharing! villas greece
There are certainly a lot of details like that to take into consideration. That is a great point to bring up. I offer the thoughts above as general inspiration but clearly there are questions like the one you bring up where the most important thing will be working in honest good faith. I don?t know if best practices have emerged around things like that, but I am sure that your job is clearly identified as a fair game. Both boys and girls feel the impact of just a moment’s pleasure, for the rest of their lives.
Amazing post! I’m actually in need of information on dog training but came upon this post and found it really interesting and helpful. Keep up the excellent work you are doing here.
I have read some good stuff here. Definitely value bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how much attempt you place to create one of these fantastic informative site.
I do not know if it’s just me or if perhaps everyone else encountering problems with your blog.
It appears as if some of the written text on your posts are running off the screen. Can somebody else please provide feedback and let me know if
this is happening to them too? This may be a problem with
my internet browser because I’ve had this happen previously.
I have not had anyone else mention this as a problem but I’ll look into it. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.