Wineries should be concerned with sustainability. They are dependent upon the natural resources of the land, the rainfall, the nutrients in the soil, and all the elements that go into making wine. Lest we forget, winemaking starts with farming. If you really examine the benefits of sustainable practices, it just makes sense, economically and ethically. So how widespread is the effort to be sustainable? This just in: The California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA) has released its first annual CERTIFIED SUSTAINABLE Report. CSWA offers a certification for wineries and vineyards and in 2017 saw a 46% growth in the number of vineyards and 20% growth in the number of wineries certified. For California, a leader in the wine industry and a state that faces droughts, fires and other vulnerabilities, in order to survive and thrive, sustainability is a must.
To strengthen or support physically or mentally.
Cause to continue or be prolonged for an extended period or without interruption.
To bear, without breaking or falling.
How is this actualized in vineyards and wineries?
The initial set of metrics that are provided by CSWA include:
- Water Use (vineyards and wineries)
- Energy Use (vineyards and wineries)
- Greenhouse Gas Emissions (vineyards and wineries), and
- Nitrogen Use (vineyards)
And the humans?
Compensation is a key component to feeling sustained. If people can provide for themselves and their loved ones adequately, coming to work each day is more palatable, and potentially enjoyable...wha?! Yeah it is mind-blowing how feeling appreciated at work actually encourages higher productivity, work ethic etc. Am I right? We have all felt it. Both ways. The correlation is so simple: the more employees feel valued, the more ownership they assume of their work, the better it is, and profit comes a rollin' in. Treating people well is just good business. The B Corps movement has made this a core principle.
Do you know what a B Corporation is?
I didn't either until last summer. I went to Oregon for a wine conference and opted to double up with a visit to The Willamette Valley. If you know much about the Oregon wine industry, you know that sustainability is tantamount. Pioneers in environmental stewardship and both organic and biodynamic farming practices, about 52% of Oregon’s planted vineyard acreage is certified sustainably farmed. Where sustainability is concerned, they have it going on. And some are takin' it to the next, with B Corps Certification.
Business as a force for good?
I am all in. Why does this matter? Because it is better for all of us. Better for the earth, the ability to sustain an industry that we care about (wine) and the human element that propels it forward. When we were in The Willamette Valley last summer, we visited 3 of the Oregon wineries that are B Corps Certified: ALL are delicious!
They have been making wine in the valley for over 30 years. Pinot Noir is their star, though they also offer lush Chardonnays, a rosé and even a sparkling. A to Z Wineworks is the parent company, also on the premises. Sustainable farming, using biodynamic principles.
One of the most expansive views in the valley, Stoller is an ideal setting in which to enjoy some al fresco snacking and sipping. Coincidentally Stoller was the first winery in the world to receive LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification. And the wine? Gorgeous. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are the main event, with a limited amount of single acre Riesling and Tempranillo, as well as a sparkling, a rosé and a late harvest Riesling.
Alison Sokol Blosser, said it best, "People, Planet and Profit" That is a business motto with multiple bottom lines. She and her brother Alex are co-Presidents of the winery founded by their parents. They have demonstrated their commitment via certified-organic farming, sustainable business practices and low impact packaging. All of it reflected in their exquisite wines. Pinot Noir is the focus with some whites, rosé and a sparkling also available.
I am still marinating on the concept of "interdependence" as outlined by the B Corps Declaration. It is lofty. I wonder if and am hopeful that indeed, each of the workers at B Corps, feel valued, can make ends meet and more idealistically, can thrive. We need each other. We need the earth. I need wine. You might also, need wine. If we are to sustain our needs, we must safeguard our resources and use them ethically. Cheers!