Richard Bampfield MW, on why radical transparency might be risky in wine

By Tobias Webb

Here’s a recent interview I taped with Richard, where we discussed sustainability in wine. From attitudes and work of major retailers, to sustainability standards and definitions in wine, to why radical transparency might have unforeseen risks, it was a wide ranging and fascinating chat. Enjoy. Highlights include: A brief chat about the Master of Wine qualification…

Highlights include:

  • A brief chat about the Master of Wine qualification and what it means.
  • Where we are at with sustainability in the wine sector. How the trade has moved from narrow definitions of sustainability to broader approaches.
  • How biodynamic and organic approaches are not always the best options for genuinely sustainable wine.
  • The need for a more unified approach to sustainability certification, can for example, sustainable wine fit into broader sustainable agriculture certification approaches?
  • How different pressures and issues around the world mean narrow approaches to viewing sustainability are not grasping the nuances social, environmental and economic challenges faced by so much of the wine industry.
  • Beyond the vineyard, how and why consumer interest and the retail trade can drive sustainability progress down the chain.
  • Why full transparency could be opening a real can of worms for the wine industry, given the complexities in production and limited scope for communicating this to consumers.
  • The need for a unified voice on sustainability in the wine sector, to help drive clarity and consistency in the industry.
  • Brand values, brand trust and how the fact that the wine sector is largely not big brand driven, in terms of overall market share percentage. We talked about how those selling large volumes can and are making serious behind the scenes efforts on driving sustainable wine with suppliers.
  • Natural wine and it impact (no conversation on this topic is complete without discussing this!)
  • Bottle weight as an easy win for wine manufacturers. And the potential for wine on tap, via kegs, as a much more sustainable option for everyday wine drinking in bars etc.

About the author

Tobias Webb

Toby Webb is co-founder of Sustainable Wine. He is also founder of Innovation Forum, a leading platform for change in sustainable supply chains. He has spent 20+ years working in business and sustainability and has spent ten years teaching the subject at various London universities. He advises a number of companies large and small on sustainability. Businesses he has worked with include Patagonia, Interface, Bayer, SOK Group, Boots/Walgreens, Metro, Unilever, Nestle, Reckitt Benckiser, Sainsbury’s, and many others. He co-authored the UK’s national CSR strategy for David Cameron from 2006-10. He has been organising events, advising, teaching writing, blogging and podcasting on sustainable business since 2001. His (non-wine) blog is at