With California standing tall as a global leader in sustainability, Andrew Catchpole joined a forum in Napa to discuss the complexities of communicating this multi-faceted concept

by Andrew Catchpole

With many predicting that the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic will effect longer-term changes to society, including the ways in which we consume, work and interact – witness the adaptation to homeworking and fast-falling global pollution levels as countries lock down – sustainability is likely to re-emerge as a defining theme in its wake.

California has for some while now been ahead of the game, with its wine industry leading on sustainability and a majority of producers moving down myriad paths towards achievable goals. The catch, though, is that sustainability is something of a holistic concept, its many strands difficult to pin down in one simple, clearly communicable message.

The general idea may be obvious – ‘do the right thing’ and ‘leave the planet better than you found it’. But communicating progress along several paths, be they environmental, climate related or social, is harder to do without a definitive set of fully achievable common goals.

So how do you define a work in progress, especially if you want gatekeeper and consumer buy-in, not least to deliver the premium required in the short term to support the shift to more sustainable practices and the long-term benefits that will deliver?

It’s a question that underpinned a recent gathering of keen minds at Ashes & Diamonds Winery in California, a session set up – in a typically transparent West Coast fashion – to exchange experiences and expertise on this hot topic, plus how to better narrate and share with the wider world sustainable progress already made.

The event brought together UK trade and communicators with leading exponents of sustainable practices in California, which has the longest established regional sustainable wine programme in the world, at 20 years.

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