Wine educator speaks out on sustainability   View email in your browser

One Somm's Learning Curve
January 2018

Wine educator David Glancy

David Glancy, MS, CWE, is the founder and chief executive officer of the San Francisco Wine School, the nation’s largest wine academy. Launched in 2011, the school helps people break into the wine industry or further their careers with professional-level workshops and certification programs. Glancy is one of only 12 people in the world to hold both the Master Sommelier diploma and a Certified Wine Educator credential.

Learning Lab: San Francisco Wine School

You judged the Green Medal Awards last year for the first time. What did you learn from that experience?
It was fascinating to see all the different things that wineries and vineyards were doing, all the different avenues they were taking to do what’s good for the environment and for their community. For several wineries, I had no idea sustainability was part of their identity.

What has impressed or surprised you most in the Green Medal applications?
So much is happening in river and wetlands restoration; that was a surprise to me. Some wineries have taken big economic hits to do the right thing, like leaving prime Napa Valley acres unplanted. The level of monitoring—of energy use, water use and water re-use—impressed me. I’ve toured vineyards and seen the owl boxes, cover crops and weather stations, but I wasn’t as aware of the employee educational programs and the ways wineries are giving back to their community.

Does sustainability figure into your school curriculum? How important is it for sommeliers to be able to address this topic with customers?
I’ve written materials for three of our programs that address sustainability. I do think it’s important. I was just in a tasting room and heard a customer ask about chemical use and the tasting room employee was not prepared to answer. I think tasting room employees need a simple, comprehensible answer and places to refer them for more information.
In a wine bar or bistro, having a good story helps to sell the wine. How the wine tastes is the starting point, but a wine’s sustainability story helps consumers feel good about drinking it. I haven’t encouraged any somms to put a key on their wine list, but I wouldn’t be shocked or offended if an “S” for sustainable starts showing up.

Teachable moment: Glancy addresses sustainability

To the beverage professionals you teach or encounter, how important is sustainability certification?
It’s a little like professional education. I can claim I know a lot about wine, but if I’ve gotten these credentials it’s a validation. When wineries, or their representatives, tell me they follow certain practices rather than saying they’re certified, as an incredibly jaded wine buyer I’ve had to say, “Are you certified?” But in the end, certification matters less to me than that they’re doing something.

What do beverage professionals not understand about sustainable practices in winemaking and grape growing? Any pervasive myths?
They don’t realize that there are cases where using a low-toxicity chemical might be the better environmental choice than a natural product. For example, if you’re using Stylet-Oil as a fungicide on 10 acres, and you’re walking the vineyard and hand-spraying it, fantastic. But if you’ve got 500 acres, you’re going to have to use a tractor, which uses gasoline and compacts the soil. And you might have to go through the vineyard six times during the growing season instead of once or twice.

Any comments about sustainable packaging? Some wineries worry about consumer response if they move to a lighter-weight bottle or eliminate a tissue wrap. Are wineries right to be concerned?
It is time to take a risk, absolutely. I recently received a mid-priced wine in a standard cardboard case, and every bottle was in a plastic bag. I have to throw those bags out. I also recently got a case of wine that was like Russian nesting dolls: tissue-wrapped bottles inside bags, inside a crate, inside a cardboard box. It was insane. The days of “this bottle’s really heavy, the wine must be good” are over. Those 750-milliliter bottles that are 30 percent heavier than everyone else’s—those should be going away. I know collectors love wooden crates, but can we then skip the tissue? Wineries really need to be looking at ways to streamline packaging.

Copyright 2018 Wine Institute

What’s New?

2018 California Green Medal Accepting Entries through Friday, February 9:

California vineyards and wineries are encouraged to apply for the 2018 California Green Medal: Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Awards. The Green Medal is in its fourth year of recognizing California vineyards and wineries who excel in sustainability. Applications are being accepted through Feb. 9, 2018 at Read the press release HERE.
Is the Wine Trade Interested in Sustainability?

The California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA) conducted trade research to assess current awareness and understanding among 457 members of the U.S. wine trade (distributors, retailers, restaurateurs, media) about sustainable practices and certifications. Read the press release and findings HERE.
Visit the CSWA Booth at Unified:

As always, CSWA will have a booth (#2106) in the third-floor ballroom. Stop by to learn about upcoming workshops, program updates, or just to say hi! Also, pick up a copy of our new CERTIFIED SUSTAINABLE Annual Report—hot off the presses!
Seasonal Recipes

Enjoy Wine Institute's fresh, seasonal, easy-to-prepare recipes with California wine pairing suggestions 
Crab Cakes with Fennel, Watercress, and Blood Orange-Chive Aioli
Did You Know?

The majority of wine trade feels that verification by an independent third-party is an important aspect of sustainability.
Resources • Publications

Sustainable Winegrowing Ambassador Course: Learn more about the online course for consumers and wine trade professionals HERE.
Workshops & Webinars:

Jan. 30: SWP and Certification Webinar,10:00–11:30 am

Feb. 6: CSWA Third-Party Program for Napa and Sonoma Creek Water Quality Permit Webinar,10:00–11:00 am

Feb. 20: Sustainable Winegrowing and Certification Webinar,10:00–11:30 am
California Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Workbook: Download individual chapters or the entire workbook to learn more about sustainability in your vineyard or winery HERE.
Down to Earth: a monthly newsletter celebrating the commitment of California vintners and growers to sustainable winegrowing and winemaking.
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