Sustainable wine: Transparency vs. Certification with Luisa Rocca from Bruno Rocca

By Tobias Webb

Across various commodities, the debate about transparency vs. certification is really starting to take off. Which can deliver increased scale and better results, with more efficient use of resources? Most say a mix of both. The debate is maturing, and not just in the wine industry.

In the podcast below, recorded in October 2015, Luisa Rocca from Bruno Rocca vineyard discusses her vineyard’s approach to sustainable wine, certification pros and cons, transparency, and making better wines with fewer inputs.

Barbaresco wine region

The eleven minute podcast is embedded below. Some more background on their work is here and here.


Here’s some introductory stuff:

At Bruno Rocca, this family business farms 15 hectares of Dolchetto, Barbera, Chardonnay and Nebbiolo grapes, making Dolcetto d’Alba, Barbera d’Asti, Barbaresco, Nebbiolo Langhe, Langhe Rosso, and Langhe Chardonnay in what’s called a modern style.

With eleven employees in the vineyard and winery, their wines are soon to be certified organic in 2016.

Luisa Rocca, in the interview, describes her personal scepticism at the idea. She believes unsustainable wine should be “certified” as such, not sustainable operations. She argues that transparency is far more important than certification:

“I was against this kind of certification” she says, “why do I have to pay a lot of money to tell my customer “I am not poisoning you?” she asks.

She points out that other wineries who use herbicides and pesticides don’t need to declare that: “It’s better that they should have to pay, and tell their customers they are poisoning them.”

It’s a simple point but one that often gets forgotten as so many producers and consumers have got used to chemical inputs in the last century or so.

On the plus side, her fellow family members argue that in the spirit of transparency organic certification is helpful, to show customers who care, just how hard they work to be sustainable and create healthier products.

Aside from the benefits to the land and for the consumer, sustainable wines simply taste better, she argues. Having tasted their wines across many recent vintages, that’s hard to argue with.


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