“We are committed to being leaders in responsible winemaking, and are sharing the story of our journey with others to inspire and inform,” the Jackson Family states in the opening letter of the sustainability report.
The purpose of the report is to both evaluate the progress made by Jackson Family Wines’ (JFW) sustainability effort up until this point, and also to clarify the conversation around winery sustainability and share best practices with the industry.
“This is the first time we’ve stated official sustainability related goals,” says Julien Gervreau Director of Sustainability at Jackson Family Wines, “but it really reflects the Jackson family’s focus on building a business that will stand the test of time, and building a business that will be resilient in the face of a changing world.”
The report summarizes the sustainability achievements made at JFW since 2008 when initial resource and impact tracking began, and highlights include:
- 31% reduction in winery water use
- 6.5 MW of onsite solar PV systems deployed across 9 wineries, the wine industry’s largest solar portfolio
- 8.4 megawatt hours of Tesla Powerpacks (stationary battery storage systems) installed onsite
- 98% of bottling line materials recycled annually
The assessment and goals are based on the full scope of JFW impact, and their work to reduce their impact. It entails working with all the stakeholders from growers and suppliers through production and transportation to the end consumer, and Gervreau was pleasantly surprised by the broad support internally and throughout the industry.
“I can’t tell you how many positive comments I get from employees that I talk to about our initiatives,” says Gervreau. “It’s something that a lot of our employees are personally passionate about, and it gives our employees a sense that they’re involved with a company that’s doing more than just making a profit.”
In fact, involving their employees in the sustainability efforts and community is one of JFW’s goals. Last year they started a program called Rooted for Good, based on the idea of giving two paid volunteer days to all full time employees each year.
Employees could use the days working with nonprofits JFW suggested like Redwood Empire Food Bank or Russian River Keepers, or they could bring their own ideas for doing volunteer work in the community.
The community around sustainability goes beyond the individual company even. “I’ve got working groups with people in the wine industry and people in the beverage industry who’re working in the operations side of plant and facilities management,” says Gervreau, “and we have great working relationships; we share technologies that relate to water or energy or waste. So I really feel like this pursuit of sustainability has a real camaraderie that’s build in.”
An example of JFW pioneering work to reduce their impact that’s now benefiting the whole industry is the recapture and reuse of water from barrel washing. The system was built in partnership with the Tom Beard Company in 2008-9 for automated barrel lines, but that unit is now modified and available for the smaller barrel users as well.
“We’re working on continuing to fine tune how we wash barrels, and we have some big plans for continuing to invest in water reuse and water conservation across our operations,” says Gervreau. “The onsite renewables piece is very exciting too, because that’s an area where there’s a very clear line between an investment, whether it’s solar or wind or something else, and being good for greenhouse gas emissions while also contributing to a healthier bottom line.”
JFW recently completed what is today the wine industry’s largest onsite solar generation portfolio with over 6.5 MW solar installed at nine wineries across California and Oregon, which offsets about 35% of their electricity usage.
The goal is to stretch that 35% to 50% renewable energy generation offset by 2021.
“We set 50% offset goal as a stretch goal, because we think we can get that additional 15% in two ways; by investing in more energy efficiency, retrofits, and other energy management tools that reduce our overall energy consumption, while also looking at installing more solar to increase our onsite renewable generation,” Gervreau explains.
The 2021 goals outlined in the report will be measured against a calendar year 2015 baseline and include:
- 50% offset of winemaking operations electricity usage from onsite renewables
- 50% reduction in facility solid waste generation
- 75% employee participation in annual community volunteer program
- Achieve zero-waste tasting rooms
Read the full Jackson Family Wines Sustainability Report for more details.
“This is a commitment that the Jackson family has made to build a more resilient company around the long term. And I want to underscore that it’s a journey that we’re excited to be taking. Our plan is to publish reports every two years and share our progress on how we’re tracking against these goals.
“Jess Jackson started the company 30 odd years ago, and a 5 year time horizon within a company that has a multigenerational outlook is a good start for us,” says Gervreau.
“This report shows how far we’ve come in the last eight years since 2008. It set some goals for the next 5 and really wets our appetite for a larger scale goal setting initiative down the road.”
By Kim Badenfort