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Wineries Embrace Green Business Practices but Hesitate Telling Customers PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 08 November 2008 11:36

DAVIS, Calif. -- The wine industry is pursuing alternative fuels, sustainable packaging and green building at a time when high gas prices and other factors are having a negative impact on their costs and profits.

Professor Robert Smiley, a professor and director of wine studies at the Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Davis, surveyed 28 winery executives and 73 vineyard and winery representatives from around the state to gauge winemaker business practices and market conditions.

Although all executives are engaged in green activities, many expressed caution in publicizing their efforts.


"These industry leaders are very concerned that their firms authentically 'walk-the-walk' when it comes to environmental issues and that they not be accused of just 'greenwashing' their businesses," Smiley said in a statement.

Consumer and industry education in the area is lacking, said one respondent.

"What we find is that there's no good definition and no good understanding between 'green,' biodynamic, sustainable, organic -- so we're trying to come up with a cohesive and meaningful answer to the marketplace when they ask about our level of green involvement," the executive said. "The issue is semantics and we want to be honest and accurate."

The survey of 73 vineyard and winery representatives found many plan to introduce new, lighter weight and recycled packaging. Nearly 40 percent said they are using fewer chemicals to mitigate rising vineyard costs. One in 10 indicated they were turning to solar energy, and 22.6 percent said they are limiting employee travel. Eighty percent indicated that at least part of their acreage is sustainablly farmed.

The executives interviewed for the survey represented Schramsberg Vineyards, Duckhorn Vineyards, Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, Bonny Doon Vineyard, Kendall Jackson Wine Estates, Hess Collection, St. Supery Winery and Vineyards, Joseph Phelps Vineyards, Cakebread Cellars and E&J Gallo Winery, among others.