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New Consumer Research Presented at First U.S. Sustainable Winegrowing Summit Shows Strong Interest in Sustainable Wine

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SAN FRANCISCO — The California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA), with wine and grape association partners from New York, Oregon and Washington, and others around the country hosted the inaugural U.S. Sustainable Winegrowing Summit | West on June 6-7 in Sonoma County. A highlight of the Summit was a presentation by Lulie Halstead, CEO of Wine Intelligence, on consumer perceptions of sustainable winegrowing. The research indicated high interest in purchasing sustainably produced wine in the future, a favorable perception of sustainable certification programs and certification logos, and a willingness to pay more for sustainably produced wine, particularly by Millennials and Gen Z.

The Summit kicked off with tours at Benziger Family Winery and St. Francis Winery & Vineyards.

The Wine Intelligence consumer research was based on an April 2019 survey of 2,000 regular wine consumers (U.S.), three domestic focus groups and surveys in Canada, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Among the key findings:

While organic wine is more universally understood, sustainably produced wine has the highest future purchase consideration, with 74% of U.S. respondents indicating that they would consider buying sustainably produced wine in the future.

In Canada, Sweden and the UK, sustainably produced wine had the highest percentages for future purchase consideration – 70%, 60% and 63% respectively, except in Sweden where organic still ranked higher (68%).

The survey also questioned affinity (“right for me”) and sustainably produced again performed well across countries – U.S. (68%), Canada (65%), Sweden (60%) and UK (56%).

For U.S. consumers, sustainable wine is most strongly associated with U.S. States and, in particular, California.

Millennials lead the way in purchasing from the range of sustainably and environmentally produced wine, and nine in 10 are “willing to pay” more for sustainably produced wine. Among all U.S. wine consumers, $3 was the average extra value that consumers indicated they were “willing to pay” for a sustainably produced wine.

Younger consumers (Millennials and Gen Z of legal drinking age) are significantly more engaged with sustainability, viewed as increasingly important to protect the future, and sustainable wine certifications have a strong appeal for younger drinkers, particularly Millennials.

Consumers seek easy ways to find and identify sustainable wine such as clear and simple visual cues or clearly identified sections in a store. Sustainability certifications for wine provide transparency and reassurance. While “Award Winning” endorsements deliver the most reassurance and positive impact on likelihood to buy, both CSWA’s Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing (California CERTIFIED SUSTAINABLE) logo and a generic Certified Sustainable logo were viewed as credible and visually appealing. When explicitly tested, wine endorsed with a CSWA logo yields the highest likelihood to buy among U.S. wine consumers.

While winery websites and wine tasting events are more effective at communicating wine sustainability, wine labels and peer recommendation are more frequently used sources.

Alternative Wine Styles: Consideration by Country

% who would consider buying the following alternative wine styles in the future.
Base = All aware of the following alternative wine styles

  Blue Square = Top 3 in each segment (exc. small sample size); Grey Square = Small sample size (n<50)

Sources: Wine Intelligence, consumer focus groups in LA, April 2019, n=3 groups; Wine Intelligence, Vinitrac© U.S. (n=2,000), Canada (n=2,479), Sweden (n=1,000) and U.K. (n=1,000), April 2019 U.S., Canadian, Swedish and U.K. regular wine drinkers.

About the U.S. Sustainable Winegrowing Summit

Six states were represented among the 65 summit attendees at the inaugural U.S. Sustainable Winegrowing Summit | West, which included regional winery and vineyard associations, grower and vintner leaders, and other organizations committed to the sustainability of local vineyards, wineries and regions. Several panels explored “the value of sustainability” from the perspective of vineyards and wineries, other industries and trade, as well as lessons learned from various U.S. state sustainability programs. A second Summit, the U.S. Sustainable Winegrowing Summit | East will be held in New York in 2020.

In California, which produces more than 80% of U.S. wine, vineyards and wineries that represent the vast majority of the state’s acreage and wine production are participating in the California Sustainable Winegrowing Program and other educational and certification programs and adopting sustainable practices. In fact, 85% of California wine is now made in a Certified California Sustainable Winery and more than 40% of California’s statewide acreage is certified to Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing, Lodi Rules, Napa Green and/or SIP Certified. Other programs that were included on the program panel at the Summit include Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing, Washington Wine’s Vinewise/Winerywise, and LIVE Certified.

The Summit’s keynote speaker, Karen Ross, California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary, highlighted the impressive progression of sustainable winegrowing in the U.S. wine industry, and the unique ways in which winegrowing regions around the country are interconnected – with a common bond of dedication to future generations.

View Summit West agenda HERE.

View consumer research presentation HERE.

View more photos HERE.

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