Sessions Provide Roadmap for Successful Green Leadership and Profitability in the Next Decade

The second annual Green Wine Summit (GWS) ended on a high note yesterday, with more than 300 wine industry leaders converging to learn about new resources for “greening” their organizations and how best to communicate brand equities with trade, consumers and lawmakers.

“Green leadership is a collaborative effort and requires staying on the leading edge of changes in government regulation, business and communications strategies, and consumer perceptions,” said Lesley Berglund, GWS co-founder with Mack Schwing. “The Summit provides a forum for ideas, data and case studies, illustrating how to succeed in a market driven by consumer demand for transparency in action and authenticity in marketing claims,” she said.

Among the key messages: consumers and trade alike are confused about the myriad of environmental claims appearing on labels. The sales of organic wines are outpacing the market. Winegrape growers are at the forefront of water conservation efforts. Consumers still feel that glass is the best packaging for wine. And table wine sales are growing despite the economic downturn.

Keynote speaker Gil Friend, Founder & CEO of Natural Logic and author of The Truth About Green Business, explored practical and applicable strategies for moving green practices and ROI into the next decade.

“Green wine champions understand that you don’t have to choose between making money and making sense,” said Friend. “The truth is that businesses, from vineyards and wineries to retailers and high tech companies, can build profit and reduce risk — and contribute to a better world — by learning from four billion years of R&D within nature’s living systems.”

Three keynote panels included: “Is it Greener on the Other Side? A Consumer View,” moderated by Dr. Robert Smiley, Director of Wine Studies, UC Davis; “Celebrating Innovation and Leadership,” moderated by Anne Steinhauer, Community Relations Manager, Napa Valley Vintners; and “Blue, the New Green,” a panel on water moderated by Paige Poulos of Paige Poulos Communications.

Some highlights:

According to The Nielsen Company, table wine sales are up more than 3% in the last 52 weeks, while sales of organic wines rose more than 12% in the same period.

Winegrowers are leaders in water conservation. Seventy-five percent of the State’s developed water is used by agriculture and of that, winegrape growers use less than 2.5% based on average use of 1.2 acre feet of water per vineyard acre annually.

Winegrape growers in Mendocino County responded to a challenge by the California Water Resources Control Board, spending $2,460,000 in under 7 months to create over 721 offline acre feet of frost water storage, offsetting an unusually high 2008 peak use outflow following 20 consecutive nights of frost.

PowerPoint presentations from panels will be available for download at and video interviews with speakers and attendees will be posted for viewing on the Green Wine Summit’s Facebook page by Friday, December 11th.

The next Green Wine Summit will take place in November 2010 at the same location, the Hyatt Vineyard Creek in Santa Rosa, CA. Potential speakers and sponsors are encouraged to contact Co-Chair Lesley Berglund at, (707) 246-6827. For more information on the Green Wine Summit, please visit

Monica Turner
Contributor to Stark Insider for tech, the arts and All Things West Coast for over 10 years.