Greenwashing is the practice of just paying lip service to environmental issues, and for the record, Millennials loathe it.
“They are always on the lookout for corporate hypocrisy,” according to Forbes magazine.
How does this translate to the green wine drinker?
I recently asked several of these green palates, age 33 and under, about their environmental preferences. I was interested in what impressed them most because green comes in countless flavors: biodynamic farming, organic certifications, solar panels, benefits for environmental foundations; wine profits for environmental foundations, and even pumps in the parking lot for electronic cars.
Luis Mazul, a 27-year old food scientist at Amy’s Kitchen, said biodynamic farming is the only thing that really counts.
“The word ‘organic’ doesn’t cut it for me,” he said. “I’m in the food industry and our government’s definition of organic is pretty lenient. In reality you could say water is organic when it comes from the faucet.”
Mazul, who lives in Santa Rosa, said biodynamic farming is the most pure effort wineries can make.
“With biodynamic farming, there are different types of plants and animals in the same eco-system coming together,” he said. “It’s nature taking care of itself.”
Meet Anthony Caspary, another green drinker with big opinions. The 33-year old distiller said “having an organic certification is B-list for me.”
Caspary, who works at Ventura Spirits in Santa Barbara, said he’s also most impressed with biodynamic farming.
“I look up to Medlock Ames (Healdsburg) and Littorai Wines (Sebastopol) because I think you can taste it in the wines … I like wineries that grow their own grapes.”
Caspary is not unduly impressed with electric car pumps or donations to foundations. “Marketing dollars buy those things,” he said. “It’s not the work of the winemaker.”
Some green drinkers, however, are open to all expressions of green. Jon Corti, 30, and Erica Clough, 26, from White Plains, New York, are traveling through Wine Country with an eye to environmentally sound boutique wineries.
“When they give tours, they talk a lot about organic farming and solar panels,” Corti said. “It’s very appreciated by customers like us. We like to see these initiatives.”
Millennials, who range in age from 15 to 35, arguably have the largest spending power in the world. This gives them great power in shifting wineries’ environmental footprint.
Wineries that are greenwashing will be doing it at their own peril.