Letters to the Editor, Press Democrat:
EDITOR: Flaws in the wine industry’s ability to promote itself as sustainable are becoming broadly apparent. Visitors to tasting rooms are increasingly asking: “Do you spray herbicides on your vineyard?” This public health question should only be the first question of many.
If a consumer knew that the winery with a sustainable label was not required to be organic, had cut down all the oak trees on the property, was depleting groundwater aquifers, had eliminated all wildlife and had paved over farmland for an event center and parking lot, that consumer would question the “sustainable” claim.
The consumer might also learn how lax regulations on winery event permits had created more dispersed tourism and increased vehicle mileage, rural traffic and greenhouse gases.
This might lead to the perception of the sustainable claim as self-serving, unsubstantiated and missing the mark of what real sustainable practices should involve.
The final question is this: Is the sustainable label meant to inform consumers or misinform them?