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In Australia, green wine is good

In a land where many consider beer and wine to be household staples, liquor companies see value in backing a new carbon footprint policy.

BRISBANE, Australia — The tourism mantra for Queensland, known internationally for its sunny climate, pristine beaches and Great Barrier Reef, has long been: "Beautiful one day, perfect the next."

Unsurprisingly, this state — which takes up the entire northeast corner of the country and has a relaxed, vacationer-friendly atmosphere — has contributed much to that great Aussie reputation for weathering a hot day with a cold beverage.

So the government’s decision to launch a carbon-footprint policy for householders, urging people to reduce carbon emissions by cutting energy and reducing the impact of household goods and services, presented a challenge that the liquor industry here seems only too happy to meet.

If successful, this might make a big impact on the national carbon footprint, since the Aussie wine industry sells about 1.23 billion liters a year, a third of which Aussies account for and two-thirds of which goes offshore, fetching an average $AUD3.24 a liter.

Americans drank 236 million liters of the stuff in June this year, slightly less than the British effort of 265 million liters, according to official figures from the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation.

The Australian Federal Department of Climate Change boosters its program by saying its "greenhouse friendly" labeling offers wine producers a competitive edge, mainly because the so-called Australian Greenhouse Office supports them by promoting those companies which gain certification.

This competitive edge will be especially handy given the news this week that Australia has been ranked as the world’s No. 1 per capita carbon emitter in a report from the Maplesoft analyst company.

An unscientific review of the latest offerings at Aussie liquor stores and coffee shops revealed there’s already plenty of “green” to choose from.

Among those putting an environment-friendly face on their products are several industry giants, including Yalumba and Wolf Blass, as well as smaller outfits such as Zilzie Wines and breweries such as Lion Nathan.

Yalumba’s Y-series now comes with a little green tag on the neck which urges drinkers to "share Yalumba, share the future," and lets the drinker know that the company’s green venture has won several awards: the Green Apple U.K. award 2007 ("an international award for environmental best practice"); a climate-protection award from the United States Environmental Protection Agency; and from the Australian Greenhouse Office, a gong for being a leader in greenhouse management 2005.

Airline travelers have been quaffing from plastic mini-bottles for years but now Wolf Blass has gone mainstream plastic with its new 750ml Green Label.