“Sustainable”? More posts from citizens who see this differently….

cc 2.0 - Niall Kennedy


The word “sustainable,” used by the winegrowers in this state, is a buzzword that basically means “we can do whatever we want.” Considering planting a “sustainable” vineyard – twice a week, each new vine will be watered with at least two gallons of water.  Each vine. How sustainable is that?

Most vineyard ops in Sonoma County use round-up and sprays to control weeds and insects, including beneficial insects.  Machine harvested vineyards bring everything into the winery, birds lizards, pieces of irrigation hoses, vineyard tools…Anything that’s in its way.  Even the evil gopher is a target.  The fact is, no vineyard manager wants any living thing to exist in their vineyards.  It is no habitat.  It serves as no eco-system.  The sustainable vineyard is nothing more than a green desert where nothing except the grape can survive.

Wineries use millions of gallons of water a year.

The word “sustainable” is just a buzzword to placate the masses while the wine industry plows under the truly sustainable forests and environs the rest of earth’s species live in.

“But we’re sustainable.” All the way to the bank. You wrote a nice piece of propaganda, Bill.  Congrats.

Dave E.


As a wine-drinker, I thank you for another interesting wine PR letter (below).  The McManis family featured in this month’s issue certainly seem to be good employers, at least for the handful of full-timers on their payroll, seven of whom are managers or owners.  They are to be congratulated.
But what this issue doesn’t say about the harvest-critical contract laborers briefly mentioned in passing is how they are treated by the wine industry.  For without that massive industry contingent of largely out-of-sight seasonal migrant workers, many undocumented and some living out of their cars, who are employees of McManis’ labor contractor, McManis and most other family and corporate winegrowers in the business would be out of business.
 It’s very decent of the McManis’s to set out lunches and throw them a pig roast at harvest time but another thing to make sure their labor contractor pays those workers living wages and benefits — year-around — to enable them to afford their own lunches and a pig for a pig roast, & medical care, education for them and their kids, decent cloths and a regular roof over their heads.
It is long past time that the wine industry face up to the fact — PR BS aside — that it is a shameful remnant and reminder of the low-wage/no-wage plantation employers most Americans thought were buried with the Civil War.  Why not tell the truth: Without thousands of badly treated, poorly housed, poorly educated and poorly paid workers, the wine industry in California would be a shadow of itself and even cheap wine would sell for hundreds a bottle.  When the Industry changes the grim reality for these badly treated workers, it might start to sound credible.
Meanwhile, please keep the newsletters coming, for in ways undoubtedly unintended, they paint a true picture of the wine industry and the toll it takes on our water, people and environment in the name of ever-greater profits for a few.
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PS: Regarding ‘sustainability’ – one can’t put much credence in repeated claims of sustainable grape-growing practices when the entire sustainability program is voluntary, self-certifying and without any independent verification by any organization not created and/or controlled by the industry.  To believe wine industry claims of sustainability is to believe pigs can fly and Volkswagen cars can honestly pass the EPA emissions tests.
B. Edwards