The SW Summary: On fire prevention in Napa, frost damage in France, organic ambitions in Okanagan Valley, and more

By Hanna Halmari
Napa’s $42m fire prevention plan

Over the last few years, the Californian wine industry has suffered extensive losses from devastating wildfires. In Wine-Searcher, Lisa Zimmerman reports on the multi-million fire prevention plan Napa county has recently committed to. The Napa County Board of Supervisors (BOS) has pledged to invest $42.5 million over the next five years to address fire prevention. Although many think it “is a much overdue measure,” the overall response among Napa wineries has been positive. 

Frost damage leads to ‘agricultural disaster’ in France 

French vineyards have recently battled with “one of the worst episodes of frost in decades,” with up to 80% of regions affected according to the CNIV wine union.  Writing for Decanter, Chris Mercer highlights how the extent of the damage is yet to be fully assessed across regions, but the country’s 2021 harvest will likely be hard hit. The government has declared it an ‘agricultural disaster,’” and has promised to provide winemakers and farmers with necessary financial support. 

Sexual harassment in a Sonoma County winery

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Alexandria Bordas and Cynthia Dizikes report on the recent sexual harassment scandal in Sonoma County. Dominic Foppoli, mayor of Windsor and the now former owner of Christopher Creek Winery, is under fire of numerous allegations of sexual assault. As Esther Mobley explains in a separate article, the report shines light on “a system that allows bad behavior to occur and go unpunished—where an alleged rapist can not only wield influence through his businesses, but can also gain political power.”

In the drinks business, Phoebe French reports on the increasing pressures and demands in Windsor calling for Foppoli to resign from his post as mayor. 

Okanagan Valley’s organic ambition

In Vinepair, Nicole Mackay takes us to the Okanagan Valley in Canada, which is home to 84% of British Columbia’s vineyards. As it stands 5% of the region’s vineyards are certified organic, but this is set to increase to 20% by the end of the year. As Mackay notes, this would result in the region boasting “one of the highest proportions of certified organic vineyards of any wine-growing region in the world.” The transition is being spearheaded by the Mark Anthony Group of wineries, with six of its wineries driving the charge.

Progress in Champagne

Going organic is a greater challenge in Champagne due to significant problems of mildew. However, this hasn’t stopped Perrier-Jouët from making great strides in reducing its impact on the environment, as Lucy Shaw explains in the drinks business. From tackling its carbon footprint and implementing a zero-herbicide policy to reducing bottle weight, the house has undertaken a number of green initiatives. Read more here

Meininger’s reports on Maison Ruinart’s recently launched biodiversity project. In an initiative to fight climate change and restore biodiversity, the house has partnered with Reforest’Action to roll out a pilot project for the preservation and regeneration of forests in the historic Taissy vineyard. The house hopes to ultimately “share the approach more widely throughout the entire Champagne region.” 

Wines of Chile USA launches ‘Sustainability 365’ campaign

The Wine Industry Advisor shares a press release from Wines of Chile USA, announcing the latter’s recent launch of its ‘Sustainability 365’ trade and consumer facing campaign. With 80% of Chilean wine exports certified sustainable, the campaign is centered on the key slogan: “Drink Sustainable. Drink Chile.” Click here to find out what the campaign entails.

Buying Fairtrade South African wine to support farmers

The South African ban on the sale and export of wine last year resulted in thousands of workers losing their jobs as wine production came to a halt. Writing for the Fairtrade Foundation, Becky Forecast highlights how Fairtrade has supported workers in the South African wine industry throughout the pandemic. From the distribution of PPE to the flexible use of Fairtrade Premiums, Fairtrade has helped “producer organisations… keep their communities safe, stay in business and build economic resilience.”

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About the author

Hanna Halmari

Hanna Halmari is the editor at Sustainable Wine and the head of conferences at Innovation Forum. Hanna specialises in sustainability research and events across various industries. She holds an MSc in international development from Kings’s College London, where she developed a strong interest in political economy and post-communist transformation. Hanna speaks Finnish, Bulgarian and English. In her spare time she is a dedicated Radio Lollipop volunteer at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, enjoys travelling, and tasting new wines.