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The leading U.S. wine grape growing states will jointly participate in a study to better understand consumer interest in sustainability, thanks to a nearly $300,000 grant from the 2018 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

The project, led by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, will conduct consumer and trade research to gauge interest and understanding of sustainable wine grape growing; training and education for growers, vintners, trade and consumers; and promotion of sustainably produced U.S. wine grapes and wine to trade and consumers.

Partners include wine grape organizations in California, Washington, Oregon and New York.
The project goal is to use sustainability research, education and promotion to enhance U.S. wine industry competitiveness and to increase adoption of sustainable practices to boost profitability, long-term viability and marketability of wine grapes and wine.

“It’s an effort for more consumer research — what sells, how does it sell and how much more does sustainability sell?” said Vicky Scharlau, executive director of Washington Winegrowers Association, one of the participants. “The majority of the production and the research, obviously, is California, but they’re pulling in Oregon and Washington and others so we can all get together and compare notes, which has not been done before.”

—by Shannon Dininny

Related: Scaling sustainability in the vineyard