Winegrowers See Total Sustainability in Their Sights

Sonoma County Winegrowers eyes 2019 to become the U.S.’s first completely sustainable wine region.

A little more than two years ago, Sonoma County Winegrowers announced their intent to become the nation’s first 100% sustainable wine region. Following the Third Annual Sustainability Report, the organization says the feat will be reached by 2019. In this latest report, 60% of Sonoma County vineyards – a total of 34,000 acres – are certified sustainable.

Sustainability to Sonoma County Winegrowers goes beyond environmentally conscious vineyard and winery practices – this includes socially responsible treatment of employees and communities. This in turn helps the winegrowers become more productive and profitable.

The organization also relaunched the Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation to provide resources and support for agricultural employees and their families specifically in the areas of affordable housing, childcare, education, healthcare, and workforce development.

“Our sustainability focus is three-fold: preserving agricultural land in Sonoma County, positively impacting the environment and continued improvement in the local communities where we work and live,” says the report. “It benefits Sonoma County as a whole as it is critical to maintaining our agricultural heritage and the region’s rural lifestyle.”

Gauging Interest
To take a deeper look at the buying power of wine consumers and where their dollars are being spent, Sonoma County Winegrowers recently commissioned a research survey on consumer trends, with collaboration from Wine Intelligence.

The results show 68% of frequent premium wine drinkers – those who consume wine at least twice a month and spend more than $15 on wine – say they are more likely to buy a wine if it is certified sustainable. The lion’s share of wine consumers in this category – 31% are consumers aged 25-34.

Behind Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing, Sonoma County Sustainable is a widely recognized sustainability program. Of survey respondents, 63% said they would buy wine from Sonoma County labeled as 100% sustainable. Those respondents said they would be willing to pay $5 more a bottle if it is labeled 100% sustainable.

The survey also found consumers who typically bought average-priced wine would be willing to spend $7.28 more a bottle on average more for a Sonoma County wine labeled as sustainable.

But taste is still critical – 51% of frequent premium wine drinkers say they buy sustainable wines because they like the wine and/or the taste.

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