Some vintners and grape growers say they’re sustainable but haven’t sought certification. Any words of advice?
If you want your team (especially the people under 30), if you want your clientele (especially the people under 40), if you want your children to believe that you’re actually doing it, if it matters to you as a company, you have to have somebody certify it.
How do you think certification has benefited Ponte?
It gives credibility to our claims. We’ve been behaving this way for 20 years, but for the last seven, it has been verified that what we say is what we do. A symbol that says we want to behave in a responsible manner is important internally, too. When I see somebody leave the lights on, I can say, “How sustainable is that?” I’m old-school Italian. We try not to waste!
Do you believe certification is important to your customers?
I absolutely think it is. With consumers today, every small brand is subject to doubt, particularly a product that goes inside your body. People rightfully need to be suspicious that what’s in the product is what you say. If a company is willing to put themselves through an audit, that resonates with consumers. Not all consumers, by any means, but enough to make it worth the effort.
You have a big visitor program, with a restaurant and an inn. How do you minimize the environmental impact of your hospitality program?
Mostly, we measure. We keep track of how many gallons of water and how many kilowatts of energy we use and how many tons of garbage we produce and we try to diminish. That’s what informs most of our decisions. If it’s not measurable, it’s hard to manage. The certification program teaches us to measure. We could go on for hours about our compostable plates and our employees’ re-useable coffee mugs, but that’s not the guiding principle. There will come a time when sustainability is taken for granted by every company, when it becomes matter-of-fact and you don’t have to talk about it because it’s a given.