Sheri Hebbeln
October 9, 2014 | Sheri Hebbeln

Getting Green Marketing Right for Your Winery, Part 3

Green wine marketing is still a unique and developing concept for many. That is partly because quite a few wineries, especially smaller wineries that may use more traditional methods, are already using some forms of sustainable land use and environmentally-friendly practices without having to slap on a certification that says it's eco-friendly. Still, having an eco-friendly marketing initiative can draw a lot of eco-conscious consumers, especially those near Napa Valley. Getting the message right with these customers can draw attention to your vintages and backing it up with certifications and collaboration with environmental groups can make a major difference in how wine lovers view your craft.

The motivations of being green
What may surprise you on about environmentally friendly customers is that they aren't that much different from regular wine customers, according to marketing firm Cone Communications. While 85 percent said that protecting the environment was one of the greatest concerns for them, 90 percent thought cost was an even greater concern. When wine lovers spend money on a bottle of merlot, they see in the cost a measure of quality. You should thus be selling and marketing your wine with the emphasis that the quality of the wine matches its prices, rather than making it sound premium simply because it's organic.

More importantly, green marketing requires being out front with your passion for the environment, according to GreenBiz.com. That means writing content and ad copy that emphasizes your concern for pollution, climate change, and other developments. You can also be proactive in your support by speaking with your farming and production staff and educating them on why it's so important to maintain green policies. Then, you can create media content that shows employees explaining what motivates them to be green in their work.

In relation to that, your marketing does not necessarily need to be  about selling wine. It should be about creating strong connections to the environment through what you do. For example, instead of marketing how your wine is organic, talk about what you're doing to keep your grapes organic such as what you use to grow. That draws more attention to your winery overall by giving your eco-conscious wine fans something to relate to.

Transparency and certification
Transparency is considered a cornerstone of green marketing. You should be able to explain how your winery conducts its business. For example, if you use specific yeasts in the fermentation process, your wine fans should know this detail. The recent harvest of grapes should be reported, even if it's poor. Given the importance of water use in Napa Valley at a time of severe drought, explaining how much water you used and conserved can be a big deal for many customers. The more you disclose, the more you show that you're making an effort to address concerns in your own business that may affect the earth's environment and climate.

Along with this information, you should seek out certification for your environmental practices. Many states offer organic certification, as does the United States Department of Agriculture. If you use sustainable land practices, seeking some credentials will help improve your standing in the eyes of your more environmentally conscious drinkers. There are a few sustainable land initiatives in place. In California, there's the Napa Green program, as well as the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, which each have their own models of sustainable wine production. For the Pacific Northwest, there is the Low Input Viticulture and Enology certification for land use and protecting the region's forests. When you apply for and receive certification, an important part of green marketing is to be transparent on this as well. That means explaining what practices you undergo to attain these credentials as proof of your commitment.


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