by Marisa McCann
The Napa Valley wine industry is uniquely positioned to lead the sustainability movement. Wineries are at the forefront of wildfires, drought, and climate change and are given a great platform to tell their sustainability story, especially since their product resonates deeply with so many consumers. Napa Green, the leading non-profit sustainable winegrowing program, has been working collectively with local wineries since 2004 to prove that the term sustainability – so often employed to appeal to the conscious consumer – can evoke true meaning and that real change is not only possible but essential.
Led and developed by Executive Director Anna Brittain, Napa Green is one of only four sustainable winegrowing programs nationwide, providing the opportunity for comprehensive soil-to-bottle certification in both the vineyard and the winery. Their targeted six pillar-guided platform addresses the core elements that any agricultural program needs to tackle to truly call itself a sustainability leader truly: water savings and efficiency, energy savings and efficiency, waste prevention, phasing out harmful pesticides, social equity, justice, and inclusion, which all fold into climate action and regenerative farming.
To accelerate these six pillars of sustainability, Napa Green recently led the design and facilitation of a first-of-its-kind climate action symposium called Napa THRIVES. Divided into six half-day, tightly focused events, Napa THRIVES drew nearly 600 guests and over 70 expert speakers and leaders in June 2022. The inaugural symposium was a change-making convening of the world’s cutting-edge sustainability leaders and wine thinkers, such as wine critic and Master Sommelier Jancis Robinson, Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson, Sustainability Scientist Kimberly Nicholas, Vice President of Napa Wildlife Rescue, Tom Clark, and many more.
“Napa THRIVES was over a year in the making, and we are excited and hopeful that it will not only inspire and create action-based leadership locally but will galvanize industry change globally,” said Napa Green Social Media Manager Meghan Vergara. “This project was uniquely fun for me as a communicator because I love collaborating with people who actually talk the talk and walk the walk when it comes to sustainability.” The Napa THRIVES events will culminate in April 2023 with a Green and Blue Black-Tie Acceleration Gala hosted in “The Grove” at Raymond Vineyards. The goal is to raise funds to directly support impactful, on-the-ground sustainability practices and actions for climate change mitigation and adaptation.
THE WORK IS NEVER DONE
Last year, Napa Green became the world’s first winegrowing certification program to redevelop and completely overhaul its sustainability standards. The organization’s new model, called the Napa Green Vineyard program, officially replaced the Napa Green Land program in January 2021 and places greater emphasis on climate action, regenerative carbon farming, and social equity. “Sustainability has to evolve,” said Vergara. “We must constantly evaluate and improve our standards to ensure the long-term health of the wine industry.”
The new Napa Green Vineyard certification provides a pathway for growers to improve soil health, become carbon neutral to negative within six to nine years, and increase the resilience of vineyards, businesses, and the community. As of summer 2022, Napa Green has successfully transitioned its first ten growers to the groundbreaking Napa Green Vineyard certification, and another 42 growers are actively transitioning, collectively representing more than 15% of Napa County’s vineyard acreage. “Sustainability is a journey of continuous improvement, and Napa Green is leading the way in establishing increasingly rigorous standards for climate action and social equity,” concluded Vergara.