Bonterra Releases First ROC Labeled Wines, Scott Labs is a B Corp
Rethinking luxury gift packaging
Bonterra Organic Estates has released their first wines labeled Regenerative Organic Certified (ROC). The Mendocino County Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are priced at $22, and will have national and international distribution. Roger Morris takes us through some luxury brands rethinking their gift packaging - some are simply doing away with it. California has released The Sustainable Pest Management Roadmap for California; its goal is to eliminate prioritized high-risk pesticides by 2050. Betsy Andrews spotlights The White Oak Initiative, an industry backed lobbying and conservation group aimed at regenerating a healthy US white oak population. The Wall Street Journal has a brief piece on how major multinationals are tracking their vast supply chains with the help of new technology, they have stepped up efforts in response to forthcoming legislation and possible fines.
UK: The UK government has announced a new target of October 2025 for the roll out of a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) in England and Northern Ireland. The Drinks Business
This will allow key learnings from rollouts in Scotland and the Republic of Ireland, on 16 August this year and 1 February 2024 respectively.
The scheme in England and Northern Ireland will not include glass, instead concentrating on aluminum and plastics.
There has been criticism around the Scotland rollout, including the lack of information around cost and VAT, as well as about the introduction of four different programs across different parts of the UK.
Global: This insightful piece by Roger Morris for Meininger’s Wine Business International takes us through multiple examples of wine producers and rethinking packaging at the luxury level.
According to a report by Boston-based Lux Research, 56m Americans say they pay attention to packaging of goods in general, and “within this portion of the population that pays attention to packaging, 35m are interested in finding more sustainable solutions when it comes to wine packaging”.
This holiday season Champagn Lanson got rid of all gift packaging for its Le Green label Champagne. Gamble Family of Napa Valley dumped all packaging for its Mill Keeper wines, and Feudi di San Gregorio offered its customers a choice of recyclable packaging sourced from forests with FSC-certification.
Helen Fritzsche, founder of The Spearhead Group, a global packaging and sustainability innovation company notes two ways high-end producers are scaling back - using materials that are more easily recyclable; and/or eliminating elements that need recycling. The group is now in trials with one of the world’s largest beverage alcohol companies using her firm’s patented bottle bag, “Bottle2Bag”, a luxury textile package made entirely from recycled plastic bottles.
In the US light weight bottles are catching up to European demand with examples of US importers placing importance on the issue - Terlato says it told one prominent Provence rosé producer they would be happy to add the brand to its portfolio, but not with the gift box then being used in France. One PR executive tells of a Barossa producer with a heavy bottle who keeps getting rejected by U.S. importers because of bottle weight.
US: A look at how Dell built its packaging sustainability initiatives through an interview with Oliver Campbell, Dell Technologies’ Director of Procurement & Packaging Engineering. Forbes
Campbell, who has been with the company for decades, took on the role in 2008. His innovations such as protective natural fiber cushions have become industry standard and earned him two US patents.
Under Campell, Dell co-founded NextWave, a cross-industry consortium creating a commercially viable, scalable, circular-economic supply chain that is focused on keeping plastics out of the ocean.
Dell, NextWave, and all their collaborators take a multipronged approach to packaging improvement and reengineering. For example, says Campbell, “We have a government affairs team and we comment on pending packaging legislation, as part of the established processes where they take feedback from the industry, where we think that would be good practice and help move things forward.
Dell’s also been part of the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize challenge, (Campbell is an advisory board member). In 2020, Tom Ford partnered with Lonely Whale to launch the only global competition focused on catalyzing scalable and biologically degradable alternatives to thin-film plastic polybags.
The prize totals more than $1.2 million. Winners will be announced in Spring 2023 and will receive significant support to achieve market adoption.
US: Scott Laboratories has become a Certified B Corporation. Press Release via Wine Business
The company was founded 90 years ago and is one of North America’s leading wine industry suppliers.
Mendocino, California: Bonterra Organic Estates is releasing a new tier of wines, its first bearing the Regenerative Organic Certified (ROC) logo. Wine Spectator
The company, which changed its name from Fetzer last year, is the largest vineyard holder to date to earn the ROC designation, and these wines will be available nationally and in some international markets.
The first wines are a 2021 Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon; both are priced at $22, and sourced exclusively from Mendocino County. The company has produced 7,000 cases of the Chardonnay and 4,100 of the Cabernet, which could provide a chance for the ROC logo to gain recognition among a wider set of wine consumers.
The ROC program starts with organic certification as its baseline, with no synthetic fertilizers and pesticides permitted, and then layers on additional requirements around three pillars: soil health and land management, animal welfare and farmer and worker fairness.
There are three tiers—Bronze, Silver and Gold—based on the number of practices addressed and at what scope. Bonterra earned the Silver level for its winery and all of its vineyard holdings, which include 850 acres of vines in production, in late 2021.
US: A trade survey of 1,295 responses from professionals in every tier of the U.S. wine trade, asked the importance they attach to wines being made from organically-grown grapes and/or made by wineries with certifications for their sustainable practices when they are considering new brand additions to their portfolios. Wine Opinions
On a seven- point scale, where "7" meant "extremely important" and "1" meant "not important at all" survey takers rated both "organic" and "sustainable."
Importers and retailers gave significantly greater importance to organically-grown grapes, while on- premise respondents valued "organic" only slightly more than "sustainable." Respondents in the distributor tier favored "sustainable" slightly more than "organic."
Seattle, WA: Browne Family Vineyards has partnered with environmental non-profit One Tree Planted to create the Browne Forest Project. Press Release via Wine Business
For each bottle of Browne Forest Project wine sold, a tree is planted.
Colorado: Carboy Winery, has joined 1% for the Planet, pledging to donate 1% of all tasting room sales to support Environmental Partner Zero Foodprint and its Restore Colorado campaign promoting regenerative agriculture and carbon farming. Press Release via Wine Industry Advisor
With a mission of restoring the climate, one farm at a time, Zero Foodprint and its members crowd-fund grants for farmers to switch to regenerative farming practices and improve soil health. Zero Foodprint will receive 1% of every Carboy purchase across all four locations to support farmers and soil health in Colorado.
California: The Sustainable Pest Management Roadmap for California – released by the Department of Pesticide Regulation, the California Environmental Protection Agency, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture – charts a course for the state’s transition to sustainable pest management in agricultural and urban settings. Press Release via Wine Business
The plan accelerates California’s systemwide transition to sustainable pest management and eliminates prioritized high-risk pesticides by 2050 to better protect the health of our communities and environment, while supporting agriculture, food systems and community well-being.
Ohio: A look at the potential link between regenerative farming and human health. Quartz
This piece spotlights The Chef’s Garden, a 300-acre farm in Ohio that has used regenerative agriculture for the last 10 years. The farm which offers tours and sells to high end chefs, believes there is a link between soil health and human health.
“Folks in the medical community are reaching out to the agricultural community,” said Bob Jones, third generation farmer and owner of The Chef’s Garden.
The United States has the lowest per capita spending on food of any industrialized nation in the world. Conversely, the US also has the highest per capita spending on healthcare of any industrialized nation in the world.
For decades, farmers have leaned on chemical fertilizers and pesticides to yield larger amounts of monocrops. The more robust harvests help farmers pay back start-up loans and turn profits. But decades of chemicals have ruined soils, making them less capable of providing nourishment for the crops, and lessening their nutritional value as a result.
Global: For Wine Enthusiast, Kathleen Wilcox takes a look at how wineries around the globe are building more sustainably.
Efforts include souring materials as locally as possibly, Château des Graviers, in Bordeaux used 600 bales of straw purchased from a farmer about 25 miles from the winery, as well as stones, sand and clay all sourced locally, and remnants of no longer viable oak wood from their barrels as building materials. They also used a local work force, many of whom were students, and fed and lodged them (as needed).
As we reported last week, Remy Drabkin of Remy Wines in Oregon has created a proprietary concrete using biochar (a substance made from carbonized organic waste like manure and wood chips), for the non-eco-friendly black pigment and sand commonly found in concrete. “My ultimate goal is to help municipalities adapt design codes for greener construction,” says Drabkin, who also happens to be McMinnville, Oregon’s mayor. “Our process for creating the biochar is part of a closed-loop system as well. We accounted for carbon emissions during the production process and the impact of using trucks to transport the concrete. We are not just neutralizing the carbon, we are actively sequestering it.” In addition to using carbon-neutral concrete, Drabkin is utilizing upcycled and recycled materials.
At Cantina Endrizzi in Italy’s Trentino-Alto Adige when they rehabbed their original cellar built in the 19th century, they made sure everything was below ground to naturally maintain temperature, and installed a grass roof as well as solar panels.
Others like Ferrari Trento and Abadia Retuerta in Valladolid, used long-standing energy reduction methods like gravity powered systems for pumps and positioning windows and facades strategically to allow for natural heating and cooling.
Global: The Wall Street Journal looks at how companies are more closely tracking materials across their sprawling supply chains ahead of expected new human rights and environmental laws.
Last year, H&M rolled out a traceability platform from TextileGenesis for its recycled polyester and man-made cellulosic fibers, such as viscose, that can contribute to deforestation. It uses blockchain technology to track and verify the use of sustainable fibers in garments. H&M Group has more than 600 commercial product suppliers who make their products in over 1,500 factories in Europe, Asia and Africa.
A host of supply-chain regulations went into effect in recent years and more are on the way, exposing companies to potential penalties and public criticism if found to be negligent, lawyers said.
Unilever has a sprawling global supply chain, with around 54,000 suppliers in 150 countries. The company tracks commodities such as palm oil and soy, using Premise, Descartes Labs and Orbital Insight to monitor farms and supply links with satellites, other geographical data and photos, among other sources. It also uses the Forest Data Partnership, which provides geospatial data to keep an eye on deforestation in South America, Asia and Africa.
Internet-of-things startups can go beyond aggregating data and instead track actual items. For example Wiliot Ltd., provides tiny tracking tags the size of postage stamps that can follow goods as they move, helping companies ensure materials aren’t coming from areas at risk of deforestation.
US: Betsy Andrews takes us inside the White Oak Initiative (WOI) - a coalition of researchers, conservationists, foresters, policymakers, and big players from industries including cooperage and distilling, the WOI’s mission is to secure the future of the United States’ oak forests and a key species in them—the white oak. SevenFiftyDaily
White oak is particularly prized for its tylosis, balloon-like cellular growths that make its wood liquid-tight for barrels. Its lignins, chemicals that give it rigidity, bring bourbon its vanilla, caramel, and other flavors.
By US law Bourbon must be aged in new charred oak – an industry that has seen significant growth. “Master distillers are always talking about contributions the barrel makes to bourbon, providing all the color and over 60% of flavor,” says Greg Roshkowski, the VP general manager at Brown-Forman’s BF Cooperage and a WOI Steering Committee member.
For barrels, cooperage-ready wood is needed —minimal knots, no fire scars or rot—in logs of 12- to 14-feet long with a diameter of 13 to 14 inches at their smaller end. This translates to about 2-5% of white oak trees currently planted.
Oak forests in the U.S. are a product of centuries of human intervention. Native Americans conducted prescribed burns, and European settlers clear cut land for industry which facilitated a thriving white oak population (the trees need dappled light). A century or two ago, a movement to tip back the scales went too far, decades of fire suppression, led to shade-loving trees dominating undergrowth again.
In 2017, the owners of Brown-Forman, Stringer, and Tom Martin, then-president of the American Forest Foundation, launched the WOI, aided by the DendriFund, a non-profit started by the Brown family.
Its first project was Restoring Sustainability for White Oak and Upland Oak Communities, an assessment and conservation plan that organizes the advocacy around scientific data, forestry best practices, and targeted recommendations for each sub-region in which white oak grows.
The group’s lobbying efforts have resulting in the White Oak Caucus, a congressional bipartisan effort to generate funding and awareness.
Global: The Drinks Business January 2023 issue includes a wide-ranging article on Merlot, and its staying power in the face of warming temperatures. It can become overripe and is being replanted, often with Cabernet Franc in its homeland Bordeaux. At Château Margaux when they have been replanting blocks they have been replacing Merlot with Cabernet Franc. Peter Sisseck, winemaker at Pingus in Ribera del Duero and Château Rocheyron in St Emilion, noted there is too much Merlot in Bordeaux at the moment and advocates for replacing it with Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Touriga Nacional on the right bank. Axel Heinz, winemaker at Ornellaia noted that as the temperatures continue to increase “only a few places will be capable of making satisfactory Merlot.” For Merlot-based Masseto, Heinz is doing less leaf plucking to provide more shade.
Global: A look at how climate change is forcing some grape growers to higher elevations, but that is not an answer for all regions. Wine Enthusiast
In Piemonte’s Barolo and Barbaresco regions where Nebbiolo is king, humidity is a key element of successfully growing the grape; and climate change means drier conditions.
In 2018 Pio Cesare purchased 24 acres of land in Alta Langa and planted Nebbiolo. His daughter Federica notes “It’s higher in elevation, much colder in the winter and mild during the summer, with more wind and humidity,”. For that reason, Alta Langa is almost entirely populated by sparkling winemakers, “but my father was determined to plant Nebbiolo instead. “He wanted to experiment with the grape planted at a higher altitude—to see if Barolo and Barbaresco could fight against climate change and thrive in high-altitude vineyards, ones already very close to their home regions and appellations.”
In Santa Barbara County, higher elevation isn’t a solution to climate change at all. “The key for future vineyard viability and wine quality is a maritime influence and not elevation,” argues Peter Stolpman of Stolpman Vineyards. “Elevation here actually makes vineyards hotter—the maritime fog burns off more quickly at the higher elevations as it recedes down the valleys and back West to the Pacific.”
Diversity & Equity
Santa Rosa, California: Jackson Family Wines has partnered with The Urban Grape, Boston-area Black and woman-owned retail stores on its Wine Studies Award for Students of Color. Press Release via Wine Business
As part of the partnership, Jackson Family Wines will host a 3-month paid winery internship and will also support the program financially by covering some expenses of the participants, including travel and housing.
The Urban Grape Wine Studies Award for Students of Color offers four key components to help students of color receive the education, experience, and mentorship needed to build a successful career within the beverage and wine industry – education, paid internships, mentorship, and job placements.
Napa Valley, California: Beckstoffer Vineyards Farming Company has announced the creation of a sustainability role, Jim Lincoln has been named Senior Vineyard and Environmental Sustainability Manager. Press Release via Wine Business