Jun 20, 2019
Winegrowing summit shows strong interest in sustainable wine

The California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA), with wine and grape association partners from New York, Oregon and Washington, and others around the country hosted the inaugural U.S. Sustainable Winegrowing Summit | West on June 6-7 in Sonoma County.

A highlight of the summit was a presentation by Lulie Halstead, CEO of Wine Intelligence, on consumer perceptions of sustainable winegrowing. The research indicated high interest in purchasing sustainably produced wine in the future, a favorable perception of sustainable certification programs and certification logos, and a willingness to pay more for sustainably produced wine, particularly by Millennials and Gen Z.

The Wine Intelligence consumer research was based on an April 2019 survey of 2,000 regular wine consumers (U.S.), three domestic focus groups and surveys in Canada, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Among the key findings:

  • While organic wine is more universally understood, sustainably produced wine has the highest future purchase consideration, with 74% of U.S. respondents indicating that they would consider buying sustainably produced wine in the future.
  • In Canada, Sweden and the UK, sustainably produced wine had the highest percentages for future purchase consideration – 70%, 60% and 63% respectively, except in Sweden where organic still ranked higher (68%).
  • The survey also questioned affinity (“right for me”) and sustainably produced again performed well across countries – U.S. (68%), Canada (65%), Sweden (60%) and UK (56%).
  • For U.S. consumers, sustainable wine is most strongly associated with U.S. states and, in particular, California.
  • Millennials lead the way in purchasing from the range of sustainably and environmentally produced wine, and nine in 10 are “willing to pay” more for sustainably produced wine. Among all U.S. wine consumers, $3 was the average extra value that consumers indicated they were “willing to pay” for a sustainably produced wine.
  • Younger consumers (Millennials and Gen Z of legal drinking age) are significantly more engaged with sustainability, viewed as increasingly important to protect the future, and sustainable wine certifications have a strong appeal for younger drinkers, particularly Millennials.
  • Consumers seek easy ways to find and identify sustainable wine such as clear and simple visual cues or clearly identified sections in a store. Sustainability certifications for wine provide transparency and reassurance. While “Award Winning” endorsements deliver the most reassurance and positive impact on likelihood to buy, both CSWA’s Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing (California certified Sustainable logo and a generic Certified Sustainable logo were viewed as credible and visually appealing. When explicitly tested, wine endorsed with a CSWA logo yields the highest likelihood to buy among U.S. wine consumers.
  • While winery websites and wine tasting events are more effective at communicating wine sustainability, wine labels and peer recommendation are more frequently used sources.

California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance

Photo at top: The summit kicked off with tours at Benziger Family Winery and St. Francis Winery & Vineyards.


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