the epiphany

As a young US diplomat working in Switzerland, Sandra Taylor experienced her wine “epiphany” while visiting wineries in the nearby Burgundy region of France. Not being very educated about wines at the time, except enjoying the wines tasted at diplomatic dinners, she was excited to explore this region with European colleagues who were experienced wine enthusiasts. “My first discovery was the warm welcome we received from the owners of small vineyards and wine makers as we toured wineries. Each day ended with a delicious dinner, starting with champagne as aperitif and a different wine with each course, often-older vintages of the wines we had tasted throughout the day. They tasted so differently with the food!”

Since then Sandra’s wine travels and studies have allowed her to get to know the geography, geology, landscapes, distinct grapes and tastes of wines from different regions – France, Italy, Australia, South Africa, Argentina and of course the wine regions west of the US. “I have often fallen in love with the tantalizing mix of culture and cuisine – the food, the wine, coffee, tea and the people who prepare these — that are integral to a country’s identity.” Wine travels and studies (and of course tasting!) became her main hobby and leisure pastime.



GOOD GRAPES = GOOD WINE

Any viticulturist will tell you that you can’t make good wine from bad grapes. You can make bad wine from good grapes but not the other way around. Over the years Sandra’s work has evolved into environmental policy and corporate social responsibility, setting standards for sustainable agriculture in the coffee industry and applying the “triple bottom line” approach to business strategy. In the wine Industry, I firmly believe that sustainably grown grapes lead to better quality, better tasting wine.

It is quite clear that our ecological future depends upon agriculture as a key driver. Of all human activity, modern agriculture is the largest single contributor to global greenhouse gas (GHG) production, to deforestation and to water consumption. Agriculture affects biodiversity, climate change, waste, soil degradation and water scarcity. And agricultural workers and farmers often are poorly compensated for their labor, while being exposed to some very harmful chemicals. Agriculture must be key to protection of human capital and restoration of natural capital. Wine is no exception.


the oldest agricultural practices in Western history


VITICULTURE

The process of growing wine grapes, and wine making, among the oldest agricultural practices in Western history, are equally culpable in environmental degradation and social inequities. Yet wine is often overlooked by consumers and retailers in the discussion of sustainable practices. There is an increasing need for greater knowledge about how wine can be produced sustainably.

This site is designed to provide that information and education to consumers, and of course to introduce great tasting, sustainably produced wines. This is an opportunity to invite consumers to join in making a difference in a highly regarded industry. So welcome to a discovery of sustainable wine – a chance to truly drink responsibly and to experience some delicious gems from wine makers who are also striving to preserve the land and communities for generations to come.



Image of Sandra Taylor in Sustainable Vineyard

SANDRA TAYLOR

Sandra Taylor is CEO of Sustainable Business International, a consulting business that assists clients at various stages of environmental sustainability, ESG risk management, and corporate social responsibility (CSR) practice, primarily in the food and beverage sector. Sandra has studied wine extensively for many years – she completed the French Wine Scholars course in 2010 and is a graduate of the Wine MBA program at The Bordeaux School of Management/Kedge Business School in France. Her first book, The Business of Sustainable Wine, was published in July 2017. She is a public speaker on wine internationally, a columnist with Wine Review Online and a member of the prestigious Magnum Club, a global organization of women wine producers, sommeliers, writers and critics.

Previously, Sandra was a senior executive with Starbucks Coffee Company in Seattle, where she led global corporate responsibility and sustainability in coffee and cocoa supply chains. Prior to Starbucks, she was with Eastman Kodak Company where she oversaw global public affairs and corporate citizenship.

“It is quite clear that our ecological future depends upon agriculture as a key driver. Of all human activity, modern agriculture is the largest single contributor to global greenhouse gas (GHG) production, to deforestation and to water consumption. Agriculture affects biodiversity, climate change, waste, soil degradation and water scarcity. And agricultural workers and farmers often are poorly compensated for their labor, while being exposed to some very harmful chemicals. Wine is no exception.”

– SANDRA TAYLOR

DEAN DeCREASE

Dean is a specialist in sustainable packaging from many years working in the paper and packaging industry. As a Technology Director of Weyerhaeuser Company, he designed and led its first global sustainability office in Geneva, Switzerland and represented the North American forest industry on the WWF 95+ Group, which developed the implementation standards for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. He brings this background to our work on sustainable packaging with the wine industry. A “foodie”, Dean enjoys pairing wines from around the world with  beautifully crafted natural foods.

CAELAN HIDALGO SCHICK

Caelan is a politico, foodie, wine lover, activist, and sustainability nerd. She has a Master’s in Human Security and has worked in nonprofits, consulting, and politics. Caelan is passionate about advancing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategies in the wine industry. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @itsohcae.

JESS CANOSE

Jess is a food systems researcher and consultant. She currently works as a photographer and graphic designer for several food businesses located in Pittsburgh, PA. Her work in the food system has ranged from coordinating CSA programs and food rescues, to facilitating conferences, and farming around the East Coast. She holds a M.A. in Food Studies from Chatham University and has spent the past few years researching and publishing about food waste. Jess is developing a compendium of sustainable wines from around the world.

Jess Canose Headshot

THE BUSINESS OF SUSTAINABLE WINE

The process of growing wine grapes, and wine making, among the oldest agricultural practices in Western history, are equally culpable in environmental degradation and social inequities. Yet wine is often overlooked by consumers and retailers in the discussion of sustainable practices. Many of us have become much more sensitive about what we eat – organic, local, vegan – as we become enlightened about our health and the health of the planet. But there is an increasing need for greater knowledge about the beverages we consume and how wine can be produced sustainably. This has formed the basis of our research and our work.

We seek to provide this information and education to consumers, and of course to introduce them to some great tasting wines that are sustainably produced – a chance to truly drink responsibly and to experience some delicious gems from wine makers who are also striving to preserve the land and communities for generations to come.