Environmental Elements

I have had any number of quality alliance ideas, as have others. When I began my consulting work, I had an interest in creating several distinct levels of vineyard operations, which their clients (and others) might buy into, such as Silver, Gold, Platinum. Each ascending level would have a specific, higher level of vineyard care. The intention was that those clients would pay more for vineyard care and receive a higher dollar return and reputation. Hopefully that quality and marketing would carry through into the bottled product. (The Silver, Gold, Platinum was just for example; could be better).

Clients liked the idea, but just didn’t see the market for it at either the grower or winery end. I had to agree with them, that it probably wouldn’t fly, as good as it sounded. The Quality Alliance always failed because it was just a group of friends who had similar wine quality interests and cared about the reputation of our wine region. We just couldn’t get that translated into an organization.

If there was a plan that could create a little more critical mass, it might work. That’s why I thought that maybe we should include vineyards in the effort. If there are growers willing to make the extra effort by either doing the extra work or paying for it, and wineries willing to write grape contracts that properly reward that effort, maybe there can be some economic and personal force created. So certain vineyards have the Alliance sign at their vineyards, and they sell to Alliance wineries. If they sell to non-alliance wineries, those wineries do not get to use the Alliance Seal, since there are quality standards upheld by the member Alliance wineries.

I do think the Winery Members would need to have the control in terms of potential vineyard members. I think Vineyard membership would need to be site (not owner) specific, in addition to specific vineyard operation standards.

by Peter Poole
Expert Viticulturist

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