The Business of Sustainable Wine: Restaurants and Retailers Making It a Priority

In Blog by Sandra Taylor1 Comment


More wine retail shops, grocery chains, hotels and restaurants are making sustainable procurement of wine a priority. Some independent wine and spirits shops are focusing the majority of their wine inventory on sustainable, organic, and biodynamic wines.

One of the largest hotel and restaurant proponents of sustainable wines is Kimpton Hotels, which has committed to having at least 30 percent of all wine lists at their hotels and restaurants include eco-friendly selections. Kimpton has also created a happy-hour program that features sustainable wines, including Flip-flop wines, owned by The Wine Group, and also Wente Family Estates, which dedicates a portion of their sales to social causes.

Kimpton has an extensive keg wine program at their hotel restaurants. Keg wine preserves wine quality for by-the-glass programs of restaurants, while reducing the waste of bottles. Free Flow Wines of Napa, California, has the largest market share and the most sophisticated business model of all the keg wine companies that package wine and handle logistics for wine in steel kegs. Started in Sonoma County, Free Flow began with a few boutique winery clients and now has over 130 winery partners, and over 200 brands.


There are numerous restaurants in the United States and the UK that include a sizeable number of certified sustainable, organic, and biodynamic wines on their wine lists. Few restaurants go as far as requiring all wines they serve to be certified sustainable. Two notable exceptions: Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons a restaurant with two Michelin stars in Oxford, England, and The Slanted Door, a very popular Vietnamese restaurant in San Francisco. Both set organic and biodynamic as preferences for their wine lists.

Camino | Oakland, California: Chef and owner Russell Moore limits spirits, wine, and beer to those that can be traced back to their source, eliminating most conventional brands.

Bar Agricole | San Francisco, California: Bar Agricole embodies both the urban and the agricultural in its simple, seasonal fare, organic and biodynamic wine, and artisanal spirits.

Hen of the Wood | Burlington, VT: It features a 100-bottle list along with 18 wines by the glass and carafe that demonstrate a completely natural focus.

Rouge Tomate Chelsea | New York, NY: The program focuses on organic, biodynamic, and natural wines, with an international selection of more than 1,200 references from more than 20 countries.

The Blue Room | Cambridge, MA: Handcrafted, sustainable, and natural wines (particularly from small producers) are at the list’s core.
The Red Hen| Washington, D.C.: The tightly edited program of about 75 bottles focuses on small, family-owned vineyards and leans toward natural wine, with a strong presence of Italian and Eastern European offerings along with selections from nearby Virginia.

Woodberry Kitchen | Baltimore, MD: The program is designed to reach a broad range of wine drinkers, from novices to the well informed, supporting offerings that are produced biodynamically and locally.

Miller Union | Atlanta, GA: The program aims to showcase smaller producers who use organic farming practices.

Longman & Eagle | Chicago, IL: The list encompasses estate-grown and small-production vintners and is approximately 50 percent biodynamic or sustainable.

AOC Wine Bar and Restaurant | Los Angeles, CA: The list is quite international. All selections are boutique in production and are farmed sustainably, organically, or biodynamically.

Ava Gene’s | Portland, OR: The 375-bottle list is all- Italian, with a focus on small producers that farm and make wines naturally.


Paul Marcus Wines | Oakland, California: A neighborhood wine shop in Rockridge district of Oakland, California, that offers food-friendly wines and a wide selection of these wine types.

Astor Wine & Spirits | New York, NY: This Greenwich Village wine shop uses signage throughout the store to designate and explain the meanings of these production methods. They deem organic and biodynamic wines as delicate as older vintages and keep many at a constant 57º in their Cool Room.

Screwtop Wine Bar | Arlington, Virginia: It turned its entire wine list “green” for “Earth month of April, 2015” and offered an informative class on the differences between these various wine types.

Appellation Wine & Spirits | New York, NY: This “unconventional” wine shop in Manhattan focuses on stocking wine from small grower-producers. Their website states, “We like good wine and we like wine that we believe is good for you.”


  1. Ms. Taylor’s book is excellent. As someone who obtained a certification from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust and who remains an ardent wine consumer, I believe she has crafted an exploration on wine and sustainability that is accessible for many audiences, chock full of insights, and extremely timely. As agricultural practices evolve and consumers become more mindful about their food and beverage choices as well as the brands that produce them, Ms. Taylor offers a compelling look at how businesses and individuals in the wine industry incorporate measures intended to safeguard the environment and demonstrate greater “respect for ethical and social principles.”
    This is a work that should be consumed, voraciously, by anyone working in the wine sector. Beyond that, it is an excellent reference for those studying wine, from an agricultural perspective and/or a business point-of-view. It is as deep as an academic tome, yet extremely readable, complete with many enlightening examples of sustainability practices around the world as well as informative case studies.

    In short, if you have Hugh Johnson, Jancis Robinson, or Karen MacNeil on your bookshelf, or even if you don’t but you enjoy reading about wine, where the wine industry is and where it is going, and/or sustainability issues, then you should own, “The Business of Sustainable Wine.” Enjoy!

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