Wines & Vines Home
   
 
Welcome Guest
LOGIN |  CREATE ACCOUNT
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 
 
08.14.2014  
 

Sustainability Beyond the Vineyard

Growers' field day in Sonoma County focuses on all aspects of sustainability in wine production

 
by Andrew Adams
 
 
“Field
 
Labor attorney Michael Saqui discusses how to be a sustainable employer. Photo by George Rose.
 

Forestville, Calif.—Discussions on sustainable agriculture typically center on what’s happening in the field.

Sustainability, however, can be applied to all aspects of a business and even to how a grower interacts with his or her neighbors. As the Sonoma County Winegrowers continues its effort to have all of the county’s vineyards certified sustainable, the subject of a field day event held Aug. 8 at the Santa Rosa Junior College Shone Farm focused on some of the other elements of running a business in a sustainable manner.

“This is sustainable in a nutshell; it’s people, it’s the plants and it’s profit,” said attorney Michael Saqui of the Saqui Law Group. “Without profitability there’s no chance of being sustainable.”

Saqui started the day off with a presentation on extending sustainability to employee relations and how to leverage that to bolster one’s brand. He prefaced his remarks with a general reminder that being sustainable is also just good business sense. Saqui was one of the contributors to the human relations chapter of the California Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Workbook.

He said wine grape growers in general already have the lowest rate of workplace legal issues because they tend to have good long-term worker retention and generally have excellent rates of compliance with health and safety requirements. “We oughta be branding this,” he told the audience of about 150 growers. “This is good stuff.”

Still, Saqui said companies should do more to help their employees with everyday challenges like finding childcare to ensure their domestic lives are secure and so they can be productive employees. He referred to one program his firm helped organize in which female “mobile office managers” or MOMs visited the fields to talk with workers. Eventually the workers grew to identify the ladies and their bright yellow vests as problem solvers who could help them with childcare, health issues and even more serious subjects like domestic violence.

Such a program is also an example of putting an employee management plan into practice. He said many companies have an accident prevention and wellness plan in a binder collecting dust in an office. Those plans are worthless unless an employer actually takes steps to implement them, Saqui said.

He said he’s worked with several generations of Sonoma County growers and advised those in the audience that the next generation is coming into the industry seeking, and even expecting, a kindler, gentler business world. He said he came to this realization about 19 months ago at his own law firm and relaxed the dress code, stocked the break room with snacks and candy, implemented a work from home honor policy and allowed flexible schedules. “The only think I haven’t given them is binkies and blankets for naps,” he said. “And you know what? I have the best team I’ve ever had in 25 years.”

Being a good neighbor
Robert LaVine is the growers group’s new sustainability manager and introduced a panel discussion by reminding the audience that what they do in the vineyard has an impact on those living nearby. “We have neighbors and our relationship is so critical a part of our sustainability,” he said.

Paul Sequeira, a vineyard manager with Constellation Brands, said growers need to be OK with approaching their neighbors and discussing what’s going on in the vineyard with them. This can be as simple as calling to let them know about a night pick so they are prepared for the pre-dawn lights and noise when it happens.

He also referred to an issue that first arose last summer when a group of parents with children at a school in Sebastopol protested an apple orchard conversion to a vineyard because they were convinced the vineyard would regularly be treated with chemicals that would put their children at risk. “One thing to emphasize if you get into this discussion is that grapes are low impact when it comes to chemicals and water,” he said.

He said it’s also a good idea to talk with people living near vineyards about what you’re spraying and how long its active. “I think it always surprises people when I tell them the re-entry interval, they think the vineyard will be toxic for a week and that’s not the case,” he said.

While he was the vineyard manager at Dehlinger Winery in the Russian River Valley, Marty Hedlund said he had few issues with neighbors until he received a particularly strident message from someone who believed Dehlinger was poisoning the environment with its toxic spraying. That prompted Hedlund to track down and contact each of the vineyard’s neighbors and he eventually learned the call was from someone renting a house who ultimately apologized for the call after learning the spraying had been done by a completely different company on a vineyard not owned by the Dehlingers.

Getting to know each of the neighbors, however, turned out to be a great resource to get information out to people living nearby. “There were a lot of things that were really cool about going out and meeting my neighbors,” he said. “Some of them are still my friends.”

Now that he is a vineyard consultant, Hedlund said it seems every vineyard in the North Coast has at least one “problematic” neighbor and good communication is really the best strategy for dealing with those types of people.

SHARE »
Close
 
Currently no comments posted for this article.
 
CURRENT NEWS INDEX »


 
Wines & Vines Home
 
866.453.9701 | 415.453.9700 | Fax: 415.453.2517
65 Mitchell Blvd., Ste. A San Rafael, CA 94903
info@winesandvines.com
Wine Industry Metrics
 
Off-Premise Sales » Month   12 Months  
January 2015 $623 million
7%
$7,912 million
5%
January 2014 $583 million $7,514 million
     
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
January 2015 $75 million
-3%
$1,818 million
15%
January 2014 $77 million $1,584 million
     
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
January 2015 259
26%
233
15%
January 2014 205 203
     
 
MORE » Released on 02.13.2015
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
2015
 
Download full report »
 
 

Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
 
Search the PWV archive »
 
 

CALENDAR
  • March 2-5
     
    Decouvertes en Vallee du Rhone
     
  • March 4
     
    Innovation + Quality
     
  • March 4-6
     
    Michigan Wine & Grape Conference
     
  • March 12
     
    Central Coast Insights
     
  • MORE »
 

READER COMMENTS
 
Article: Scurlock joins wine hall of fame »
 
Congratulations David!
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Wineries Cautioned About Internet 'Ads' »
 
I guess my first question would be why is there a three tier system to...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Wine on the Rocks »
 
Great potential! Mineralities are sought after and can be found in these rock formations with...
Reader: Bruce Coulthard
 
Article: 90% of U.S. Consumers Can Buy Wine Direct »
 
You say that 90% of the consumers can buy wine direct. Really? In most cases...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Wineries Cautioned About Internet 'Ads' »
 
It is an unfortunate fact that the regulations have no understanding of modern technology and...
Reader: Paul Mabray
 
 


Directory/Buyer's Guide — Your Wine Industry Marketplace
 
 
WINERY SEARCH
 
 
Advanced Search »
SUPPLIER SEARCH
   by Product
 by Company Name or Brand
 
Browse by Category »
2015 Directory/Buyer's Guide
The Wines & Vines Directory and Buyer's Guide
 
 
EXPANDED ONLINE SEARCH INCLUDED WITH PURCHASE
 
ORDER NOW »
 
LEARN MORE »
 
 
Wines & Vines Magazine
 
 
LEARN MORE »
 
SUBSCRIBE »
 
Digital Edition Now Available!
Wines & Vines Digital Edition Now Available
 
LEARN MORE »
 
ORDER NOW »
 
 
The Wines & Vines Online Marketing System
 
The Industry Standard winery marketing application
 
FREE LIVE DEMO »
 
VIEW VIDEO »
 
 
 
 
Latest Job Listings
 Bottling Line Operator
 Lodi, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Associate Marketing Ma...
 Livermore, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Research & Development...
 Manteca, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Tasting Room Associate...
 Paso Robles, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Tasting Room Lead
 Paso Robles, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Hospitality Manager
 Paso Robles, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Mid-Atlantic Regional ...
 Charlotte, NC
Sales and Marketing
 Enologist
 Oakville, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Compliance Specialist
 Santa Rosa, CA
General Administration and
 Guest Relations Coordi...
 St. Helena, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 
More Job Listings >>
Follow Us On:
 
 





Home  |  About Us  |  Editors  |  Subscribe  |  Print Edition  |  Digital Edition

Advertise  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
 
 
Copyright © 2001-2015 by Wine Communications Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
No material may be reproduced without written permission of the Publisher.
Wines&Vines does not assume any responsibility for any unsolicited manuscripts or materials.