Napa RISE keynote speaker Maryam Ahmed. Credit: Kiki Romanik

Napa RISE offers the wine industry a roadmap towards greater diversity

Napa Resilience, Innovation, Sustainability, Empowerment (RISE), is a six-event symposium organised around the six pillars of sustainable wine growing leadership held each spring in the Napa Valley. This spring one session in particular looked at ways the Napa wine industry could become more inclusive.

When most people think of sustainability, protecting the environment comes immediately to mind. However, another part of sustainability – the social side focusing on employees and the community – is often overlooked. Yet, at a recent Napa Rise seminar, speakers emphasised that this aspect of sustainability is the most essential.

‘It is an uncomfortable topic to discuss,’ stated keynote speaker Maryam Ahmed, CEO of Maryam + Company and co-founder of the Diversity in Wine Leadership Forum. ‘However, this aspect of sustainability, which focuses on social justice, diversity and inclusion, is the most important.’

Napa Rise co-founder and seminar speaker Martin Reyes MW, added: ‘No other pillar in RISE (water, energy, soil health, packaging, climate action) has justice or fairness as such an overt part of its essential tenets. When we consider social sustainability, we deal with people, and with that come the eggshells.

‘Most of us are still learning. It’s not perfect, But that shouldn’t stop us from trying and admitting we have a long way to go.’

Ahmed and Reyes led a session that highlighted five steps that wineries and wine-related businesses could take towards a more inclusive Napa wine industry. And even though some people are nervous about making mistakes, most speakers urged that wine businesses just get started.

Active leadership engaged in DEI

The beginning of the seminar addressed the need for wine executives to step forward and address DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) issues in their companies. Tod Mostero, director of viticulture and winemaking at Dominus Estate in Napa Valley, compared the need to promote diversity in the workforce to that of promoting biodiversity in the vineyard. He explained how leaders could set JEDI (justice, equity, diversity and inclusion) goals in their wine businesses.

C. Mondavi & Family CEO David Brown described how DEI infuses the culture at Charles Krug winery. ‘From recruiting practices to pay and benefits, promotions, and all other aspects of employment at Charles Krug winery, an environment of equity is of the utmost importance,’ said Brown. He also described how the winery is a majority women-owned business and that he was promoted to the CEO position internally.

Diversity training and certifications

More and more wine businesses are incorporating diversity training into their strategy. For example, Charles Krug offers inclusive leadership and unconscious bias training. Both empower employees to act and lead in uncomfortable situations with expanded confidence and empathy.

Training tasting room employees on how to handle ‘micro-aggressions’ from customers, as well as not to deliver ‘micro-aggressions’ to customers, is also becoming increasingly important. Stevie Stacionis, the owner of Bay Grape Wine shops, described how she trains and mentors her employees on dealing with these subtle slights that are often delivered unintentionally but negatively impact those who hold marginalised identities.

Nufo Solorio, vice president of operations for Silverado Farming, explained how important it is to provide vineyard workers with all types of training, including soil health, mathematics, computer literacy, leadership and English.

Scholarships for wine education and immersion opportunities

Another great way to promote more diversity in the wine industry is to support scholarship efforts for under-represented populations to go on a wine immersion experience or to take part in wine education. This exposes elements of the wine industry to those who have not historically had access to opportunities and can lead to longer term diversity in the industry.

The Roots Fund is a non-profit organisation that sends scholarship recipients to visit wine regions in France and California. It also offers other educational scholarships. Its mission is ‘to nourish and enrich the lives of communities of colour in the wine industry’.

Field Blends, operated by Maryam + Company, is another wine tour business that offers scholarships for diverse candidates and, to date, has conducted tours to New York and Washington wine regions.

Wine apprenticeships

Some wine businesses are establishing apprenticeship programmes for Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) candidates to encourage more workforce diversity. One example is Silver Oak, which partnered with the Veraison Project to recruit for the programme.

After reviewing a pool of applicants, Tahlia Suggs and Courtney Guntz-Summers were selected to complete a year-long apprenticeship. They worked in all aspects of the winery, including customer relations, tasting room and cellar operations, as well as the vineyard.

Silver Oak apprenticeship co-creator, Veronica Jauregui, stated: ‘Tahlia and Courtney have made a profound impact at Silver Oak. We hope they are the first of many to go forth and make the wine industry a more inclusive and diverse space.’

After the apprenticeship, Guntz-Summers summarised: ‘I have fallen in love with the challenge and camaraderie of the industry.’ Suggs reported that the experience ‘has allowed barriers to be broken down within the wine industry to allow access to the BIPOC community’.

Hiring, mentoring and retention metrics

Progressive wine businesses are also actively recruiting under-represented employees and ensuring they have a mentor – whether another employee or a manager – to help them feel comfortable within the company culture. Likewise, these businesses use metrics to track the percentage of diverse new hires, maintain retention metrics and conduct exit interviews.

 

‘During orientation, we provide optional reporting on gender, and identity to track diversity,’ reported Stacionis of Bay Grape Wine. ‘In this way, we can track our DEI progress and have seen increases in all categories.’

Stacionis concluded her presentation with an encouraging statement. ‘It’s really easy to talk about DEI, but walking the walk is much more difficult and terrifying. By being here today, I hope to encourage someone else to start their own walk or even a quiet crawl.’

Making the commitment to third party certification takes time and effort, but it is worth it to demonstrate our commitment to the community and to protect our watershed, our land and the air we breathe.​

Join these rockstars of winemaking this week at @complinewineshop for Vino & Vinyl night featuring all Napa Green Certified Wineries! 

🗓️: Thursday, July 18th 
📍: Compline Wine Shop 
⏰: 7:00pm 

Get your tickets now at the link in our bio! 💃🍷

@tressabores, @ashesxdiamonds, @spottswoodewinery, @closduval, @larkmeadvineyards, @complinewineshop, @tisharoundtown
48 7
Plan your tasting at @phiferpavittwine in August! 🍷

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead
182 33
You’re invited.. 

Join us for a fun night featuring some awesome Napa Green wineries! Link in profile for tickets. 🎵🍷

📍: @complinewineshop 
🗓️: Thursday 6/18/24 7:00-9:00pm
🎟️: Linked in profile
35 2
Plan your tasting at the beautiful new Garden Pavilion at Napa Green Champion winery @whitehalllane! 

Help support Napa Green while sipping on delicious Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot amongst the scenic views. Cheers to Climate Smart Wines! 🍷

#napavalley #winereels #sustainability #winetasting #winetrip #visitnapavalley #cheers #vineyardviews #winelovers
47 1
Plan your trip to @cliffamily this August for our ‘Cheers to Climate Smart Wines’ campaign! 

Clif Family Winery & Farm will be creating a beautiful food and wine tasting menu for the month of August with a percentage going straight to support Napa Green! 

Plan your visit to the tasting room, food truck or gorgeous Enoteca Private Tasting Salon in August to enjoy great food & wine while helping to support this important initiative! 

#napavalley #sustainability #napa #cheers #winereels #winetasting #visitnapavalley #winebusiness #wineindustry #winetrip
83 4
We’re thrilled to announce our ‘Cheers to Climate Smart Wines’ campaign starting in August! 

Several of our champion members will be curating special offerings to support Napa Green and highlight the brilliant work being done in Climate Action here in Napa Valley. 

Join us this August and visit @spottswoodewinery & @mkshepp!
103 8
Economics of Organics on June 25th at @grgichhills. Register at the link in our bio. 

🎙️: @soilrainandhope 
🎞️: @mvino1
40 3
Seeking third party auditors! Email sierra@napagreen.org for full details!
39 0
Have you been to Napa Green Certified @boeschenvineyards yet?
53 7
Team Green outing today at the stunning @boeschenvineyards as we celebrate big things that we can’t wait to share with you! 🌿
72 3
One of the main resistances to phasing out glyphosate is increased labor and equipment costs. However, the costs of herbicides and fertilizers have risen dramatically, so increased labor demands can be offset by reduced supply chain purchases. 

In addition, leaders like Grgich Hills Estate have shown that regenerative organic farming can be cost-effective. According to an analysis by Brotemarkle Davis & Co. LLP accounting firm, the average annual per acre cost of vineyard management in the Napa Valley is $14,800, with $3,800 in depreciation. At Grgich, they spend $11,000 per acre, with only $1,300 in depreciation due to the longer life of their vineyards. 

Learn from regional leaders about the practical costs, benefits, and ROI of herbicide-free, organic, and regenerative vineyard management.

Confirmed Speakers:
• Ivo Jeramaz, Grgich Hills
• Phil Coturri, Enterprise Vineyard Management & Winery Sixteen 600
• Brad Kurtz, Gloria Ferrer
• Brenae Royal, St. Supery
• Rebekah Wineburg, Quintessa

Register at the link in our bio.
80 1
“Storytelling is key… and sustainability is the most important topic in wine.”

Thank you @elinmccoy for an incredible and insightful conversation with @napagreen members about the stories most likely to capture journalists attention.
60 6
Thank you to all who attended our Future of Water Workshop yesterday at Napa Green Certified @silveroakcellars! 

Stay tuned for more from our luminary speakers @mimicasteel, @todmostero, @petergleick & our own @abrittain.
58 2
Join us for a special roundtable workshop with award-winning journalist Elin McCoy, global wine critic for Bloomberg News and US editor for the podcast The Wine Conversation, with listeners in 95 countries. 

Elin will sit down with a small group of Napa Green members (max 25 guests) and share her insights on the types of stories and pitches most likely to engage the media. In particular, she’ll focus on stories related to sustainable winegrowing, climate action, and social equity. 

Elin will speak and answer questions for about an hour. Then we’ll break into small groups to develop a story pitch, and come back together to present and get Elin’s feedback and input. This is a rare opportunity to get ideas and inspiration from a leading wine journalist. Register at the link in our profile.
36 2
Climate Action & Regenerative Agriculture! Our sixth pillar that encompasses all that we do at Napa Green. 🌼
48 8