Most of the time, this is the response I get at trade shows when I ask whether they farm organically. "No, but we are sustainable".
This is my internal thought process when they say the above to me.
1. I was asking about the use of chemical pesticides and fungicides on your grapes.
2. What the heck does 'sustainable' mean to that individual winemaker/grapegrower?
There is an interesting article in the North Bay Business Journal on the first Green Wine Summit.
"Next year the wine industry, in conjunction with other specialty crops in the state, will set industry-wide goals for improvement in areas such greenhouse gas reduction, energy efficiency, water use, waste reduction, biodiversity and work force training and retention."
I am a fan of third party verification and environmentally friendly business practices. The California Association of Winegrape Growers and the Wine Institute are set to become those verification engines and are putting finishing touches on a pilot voluntary certification program.
It's about time too. Even enthusiasts like me have become leery of winemakers or their marketers running fast and loose with the definition of sustainability.
And it is not entirely their fault since there has been no attempt at definition until now.
I am all for the intentions behind the 'green' and 'sustainable' movements but they need authentic, credible definitions.
Here is Michael Honig giving his short overview of what sustainable means.