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Bill Redelmeier
April 22, 2023 | Bill Redelmeier

Happy Earth Day

It was nice to see that the LCBO launched four wines from certified-sustainable wineries last Saturday, ahead of Earth Day, and I am pleased  that our 2021 Triomphe Gamay was included.

Many Ontario wineries have worked together to create the Sustainable Winegrowing Ontario certification and I would love to see it expand over time. I have always believed that making claims without third party certification is useless and ends up as greenwashing, so we didn’t use the term ‘sustainable’ until the Ontario regulations were finalized a few years ago.

We are proud to participate but this certification costs money - not only because you have to do things to satisfy the regulations but also the fees that are charged each year. If the Ontario government, the LCBO and the Grape Growers of Ontario (GGO) are serious about being sustainable, why not make it the baseline? In the mid-1950s, Ford started to offer seatbelts in their cars as a $9 option. The take up was low as people clung to the (mistaken) belief that it was safer to be thrown from a car in an accident. By the 1960’s, under pressure from government, Ford came up with an advertising campaign for change that hinged on a brilliant idea. Seat belts were included with every car, however, if you were against the idea, you could special order your new Fairlane without belts. The catch - you got NO special pricing or rebates, so, surprise, surprise, few were special ordered. Getting the seat belts as a standard feature was a big push to getting people to use them - now second nature for most drivers/passengers.

If a Sustainable certification cost grape growers no money, maybe everyone would do it. Even better, the LCBO, hopefully along with the SAQ and the rest of the provincial liquor boards, could implement a radical new idea: if a winery brings in something that is good for the planet like sustainable winemaking or Organics, they could lower the markup charged, like -1% for sustainable, -1% for lightweight bottles, or -2% for certified organic. To keep this revenue neutral, they would have to raise the markups on wines that couldn’t give a sh**t about the environment. This economic reward for doing the right thing could be a real game changer right now. 


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