Doing good can translate into doing well. Consumers want to give back, and brands that empower them to do just that, while simultaneously acquiring a product they want to buy anyway, can engender loyalty that ultimately boosts their bottom line.
This is especially true for younger people: 81 percent of millennials want to support brands that are good corporate citizens, according to a Horizon Media study. Research also shows consumers are 73 percent more likely to buy from a brand that gives back, with 50 percent of those consumers changing brands to support a cause they believe in.
We spoke with producers for insight into the particulars of their giveback programs. Read on for more on their inspirations, programs, and impacts.
Smaller wineries, like Brix & Columns in McGaheysvilla, VA, can still make an outsize impact. Brix has 11 acres under vine on its 160-acre farm, and they produce 3,000 cases annually. Just four years old, they built giving back into their business model early on.
“We feel it is important to give back to our community,” says co-founder Stephanie Pence. “We chose Kerus Global as our partner organization because it’s locally founded, but globally focused. It provides AIDS education worldwide and has an orphan care center and safe house in South Africa where my daughter and I spent a week volunteering several years ago.”
Two wines (2019 Kerus and 2020 Kerus II) benefit Kerus Global, with $3 for every bottle sold going to Kerus; the labels of each bottle are creations of South African artist Adriaan Swartz; they raise about $10,000 every year from bottle sales, and find it’s a steady seller, year-round.
Protector Cellars & Soter Vineyards Capture Carbon
Central Coast’s Protector Cellars only uses fruit from certified sustainable growers for its canned wines, which is just part of founder Alexander Katz’s goal to “sequester more than 100 million pounds of CO2 from the atmosphere within 10 years.”
Protector partners with Trees for the Future; for every can sold, one tree is planted.
“Their approach is ‘forest-garden,’ meaning the trees are planted as part of dynamic farming ecosystem, which guarantees the trees will be cared for and can achieve their full carbon-capture potential,” he says. So far, they have planted 20,000 trees together, and support other reforestation projects as part of their commitment to being certified Climate Neutral.
“Since its inception in 2009, Planet has grown from 500 to 20,000 cases,” founder Tony Soter says. “Around 2009, the Oregon Environmental Council started asking local winemakers to strive to be more carbon conscious in their farming and production choices.”
The team embraced the challenge but admitted they had “no clue” where to start. With the Council’s help, they audited their activity and transformed their farming and production processes.
“It was transformative for us, and we decided to give back to the Council too, because we want to be part of the solution that saves the planet,” he says.
Liquid Geography donates to Cancer, Hospitality Workers, and Differently Abled
Olé & Obrigado donates 100 percent of its Liquid Geography Mencia Rosé in equal parts to TJ Martell Foundation‘s cancer research, the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation and Wheeling Forward. The dry rosé is made from old-vine Mencia grapes in Spain’s Bierzo.
“We see it as our way of saying ‘thank you’ to everyone that has helped us since our launch in 1999,” says Patrick Mata, co-founder of Olé & Obrigado. “In 2013, we created this line to show our gratitude. Giving back is one of our core values. So far, we have raised nearly $500,000, with almost $200,000 in sales this year alone. This tells us that the market is receptive to buying wine that has a meaningful impact, year-round.”
Vital Wines Supports Health Workers
“100 percent of the profits from Vital Wines go to the SOS Clinic, a free nonprofit health care clinic which provides healthcare, no questions asked,” Trout says. It’s a community effort to make wine, and to make Vital Wines, she explains.
“We rely on vineyards that donate fruit,” she says. “We have historically had a barrage of donations from people who feel strongly about taking care of their workers. Total raised so far is $180,000 this year. I do think people are more inclined to purchase a bottle if they know it’s making the world and their dinner a table a better place.”
Trout calls it having “purpose in every pour.” Each of these winemakers offer their charitable labels year-round, but in the season of giving, it seems like a particularly good time to pick up a bottle.
Kathleen Willcox writes about wine, food and culture from her home in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. She is keenly interested in sustainability issues, and the business of making ethical drinks and food. Her work appears regularly in Wine Searcher, Wine Enthusiast, Liquor.com and many other publications. Kathleen also co-authored a book called Hudson Valley Wine: A History of Taste & Terroir, which was published in 2017. Follow her wine explorations on Instagram at @kathleenwillcox