by Soham Wrick Datta, Eline van Remortel, Simona Jastremskaite & Gioia Zagni
On Cloud Wine is working towards strengthening the connection between wine enthusiasts, consumers and tourists with small to medium scale wine producers through cooperation with universities and innovation initiatives, digitalisation of the information exchange system among the stakeholders, introducing a subscription-based model to raise awareness, improve mobility infrastructure, promote renewable sources of energy and promoting the shift from luxury tourism towards eco-tourism hubs around the old historic towns close to the vineyards of Portugal and southern France and move towards a Carbon-neutral resilient viniculture/wine production system by 2040.
How did the project originate?
During the EIT Climate-KIC VinhoVin Journey 2020, Soham, Eline, Michele and José Carlos were enthusiastic about developing a project in the Mediterranean area since one way or another all of us were related to it in our passion to learn and contribute towards making the wine sector sustainable. Soham had a vision about how the Mediterranean wine sectors were in need of sustainable innovation as the current practices would be unsustainable in the long term and found that Eline was equally interested in a similar project. Eline’s critical thinking ability helped with the quality management of the project. Jose Carlos assisted with the initial operations of the project. Michele is our expert on climate-related topics and developed the scientific foundation of the project. Simona has been using her expertise in environmental projects and sustainability studies to strategise the stakeholder engagement and creating a policy brief. Gioia is the newest member of the team and brings in a fresh perspective on how to interview the winemakers and farmers in the local ecosystems of southern Europe.
What was On Cloud Wine’s inspiration?
We talked to a lot of experts in the wine sector in the southern European region of Portugal, Spain and France. Talking to Fernando Alves from Symington vineyards about the wine sector, Filipa Silva of FCT-Nova about the wine ecosystem and logistics and Marie-Dominique Bradford of Trois fois Vin about wine making raised a lot of questions and made us quite curious to delve deeper into this field. We wanted to make the most of our VinhoVin Lisbon-Paris journey and the team considered this project as a stepping stone to expand and strengthen our knowledge about viniculture and the potential to become more sustainable.
What is/was difficult about the project?
Our biggest challenge has been the COVID-19 pandemic making us work remotely, limiting our ability in taking a field trip to the region we intend to work in. Engaging experts, project developers and researchers has not been very difficult, but reaching out to the small-to-medium wine makers and farmers working in the wine sector. Limited capital is another obstacle that we wish to overcome with the help of potential institutional funding and collaborations in the near future. All of the team members are based in different countries in Europe at the moment which could seem a disadvantage, but we’re making use of the diversity and the variety in interdisciplinary expertise and knowledge to our advantage.
How is it progressing?
On Cloud Wine started off in full steam, but we have had to slightly slow down, reboot certain aspects and evolve. We are digging deep into deeper problems in the above-mentioned wine sectors while trying to engage remotely. We also host a large number of workshops to educate the students in our local ecosystems and the wider network about the importance of sustainability in the wine sector from an environmental and future perspective. Through these workshops and community engagements, there are a lot more people including experts, researchers and project developers in the wine sector who are starting to learn more about On Cloud Wine and are open to collaborations thus spreading awareness and bringing about systematic change.
On Cloud Wine is working towards creating a platform in which the wine sector including the farmers can collaborate with academia, the energy sector, the local government, the transport authorities and the banks to move towards a carbon neutral viniculture system by 2040, but not having to compromise on the economic benefits. The need for implementation is crucial as it connects multiple systems, and surveys have shown the need for such initiatives in several Mediterranean vineyard ecosystems.
What is/was the biggest success?
We have been able to host a session at the Climate-KIC summit that included around 50 other project developers and a handful of experts and researchers. We were also contacted by the Swedish Institute and the Network for Future Global Leaders to host a workshop and it gave us a lot of impetus to present in front of such a diverse cohort. We won the EIT Climate-KIC micro-award fund in fall 2020 and look forward to participating again. We competed in the Circular Economy Challenge 2020 and made it into the finals where a handful of projects were selected among all the applicants across the European Union and India. However, our biggest success so far has been rave reviews and feedback from our peers and researchers working in the wine sector. We’re also delighted to have Simona and Gioia on board where they get to use their environment and climate-related expertise and create a niche for On Cloud Wine.
Soham Wrick Datta is the Concept Head & External Relations of On Cloud Wine. With an academic background in clinical medicine, cancer research, system innovation and sustainable business modelling, he aims to bridge the gap between medical research and climate change. Having recently met other wine enthusiasts in the European Institute of Innovation & Technology Climate-KIC school, he recognises the importance of tackling the problem of climate change across the wine ecosystems in southern Europe and conceptualised On Cloud Wine as a project that aims to aid the local winemakers in transitioning towards a carbon-neutral climate-change resilient viniculture system by 2040 is an organisation that saves food, shares it among the community and raises awareness among the citizens towards the devastating effects of food waste and ways to reduce food waste thus reducing overall emissions and gross abuse of natural resources.
Eline van Remortel is the Creative Head & Multimedia in-charge at On Cloud Wine. She is a second-year Master student in Climate Studies, with a focus on water systems and global change. In her current research, she is investigating the effects of climate change on viticulture systems in two regions of Portugal and how information systems can support grape farmers to respond to these impacts. In order to be prepared for the future, protect our livelihoods and the environment, she is quite interested in adaptation methods like nature-based solutions and climate information services. She sincerely hopes that On Cloud Wine can make a contribution to a more sustainable and climate-adapted wine system in Europe.
Simona Jastremskaite is the Project Manager at On Cloud Wine. She is a second-year Master student in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science at the Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies in Sweden. At the moment she is working on her thesis related to water management in Lithuania and eutrophication tendencies in the Baltic Sea which is caused due to the nutrient runoff from agriculture. It is important to acknowledge that intensive anthropogenic activities are causing harmful effects to the surrounding vulnerable ecosystems and at the same time putting an immense pressure on society, economy and public health. Therefore, it is important toincorporate sustainability in important aspects of business such as supply chain, material management and corporate responsibility. She believes that On Cloud Wine is an essential step towards more sustainable wine industries and it has the potential to bring sustainability to an agro-intensive activity.
Gioia Zagni is the Interviewer & Analyst at On Cloud Wine. She is an industrial chemist who did not enjoy working in the lab, but rather in restaurants and bars where she had a lot of fun. However, she came across the issues of unsustainable food production and, especially, food waste. Therefore, Gioia studied environmental science to understand the current situation of changing climate and depletion of resources. She is currently doing her internship in a food company focusing on waste streams upcycling to eliminate food waste at the industrial level and establish a circular economy. She decided to join the On Cloud Wine team because she is Italian and loves wine, finds her team members very inspiring and, above all, she wants to take transformative actions from farm to glass and fork.