The wine industry is making a concerted effort to adopt environmentally responsible practices, but sees a need for better education among both consumers and professionals on many “green” issues, according to two surveys of wine industry executives conducted by Robert Smiley, professor and director of wine studies in the Graduate School of Management at the University of California at Davis.
“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.
He added that while survey participants reported that the high prices of gasoline and other inputs have negatively impacted their costs and revenues, they remain optimistic that the industry will ride out the current nationwide economic downturn.
As part of his 10th annual wine executives survey, Smiley gathered the opinions and projections of 28 heads of key wine operations, ranging from growers to vintners to distributors.
All of the executives interviewed said their firms were actively engaged in environmentally friendly business activities, such as package redesign, use of biodiesel fuel, wastewater reclamation and developing “green” building plans. They expressed a concern, however, over the lack of clarity in the industry and among consumers over what many environmental terms like “sustainable,” “green” and “low carbon footprint” actually mean, and how industry can genuinely adopt environmentally sensitive practices.
Major changes in wine packaging during the next five to 10 years are anticipated, with most producers using screw caps rather than corks, and less expensive wines being sold in soft-sided packages rather than bottles.