Bogle Requires Certification

Winery says grapegrowers must abide by Lodi Rules

by Jane Firstenfeld
wine vineyard grapes sustainability lodi rules certification
A red tail hawk perches on an owl box at Bogle Vineyards, which is requiring the growers from which it contracts grapes to become certified under the Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing.
Clarksburg, Calif.—Bogle Vineyards produces 2.5 million cases of wine annually, sourcing many of its grapes from independent growers. In 2017, the winery asked all of its contractors to become certified under the Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing, California’s original sustainability certification program for wine grapes.

Winery vice president Ryan Bogle told Wines & Vines that by the end of 2017, 92% of Bogle’s growers had achieved certification. The winery made accommodations for some small suppliers, who might deliver as little as one truckload of grapes during crush. The goal is to reach a percentage in the upper 90s for the 2018 vintage, Bogle said.

He acknowledged that earning certification can take time and money. Bogle chose the Lodi program because it is more “robust” than other certifications, requiring a third-party audit as well as extensive self-evaluation of vineyard practices.

Founded in 1979 in what is now the Clarksburg AVA, Bogle had its 1,500 acres of vineyards certified under the Lodi Rules system around 2011, when the certification program first accepted producers outside the immediate Lodi area. The winery facility is also certified with Wine Institute’s Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing program. 

Some 70% of Bogle’s grapes come from outside growers. The company pays certified growers a bonus of $25 per ton for grapes. “It makes sense,” Ryan Bogle said, adding that demand from retail buyers pushed the winery’s decision.

The average bottle price of Bogle wines remains fairly steady at $11. Most retail displays are arranged by varietal, not sustainable or organic production, but consumers searching the shelves are becoming more aware of back labels, where certification symbols typically are displayed.

Do consumers care?
Liz Thach, master of wine and professor at Sonoma State University, posted results from a survey about consumers’ willingness to pay more for “green” bottles.

“Completing the process of becoming certified for producing wine using sustainable practices can take years for vineyard owners,” she said. “Achieving organic or biodynamic certification can take even longer. Plus, the cost of becoming certified and going through the inspection process can cost thousands of dollars.” Thach sought to answer the question of whether the expense was worth it for grapegrowers and whether certification was important to consumers.

According to the 2017 survey of more than 300 wine consumers, 91% said they would pay $1 more per bottle for a wine made from certified-sustainable grapes. Only 88% would pay the same surcharge for organic grapes, and 85% for Biodynamic grapes. As the surcharge for sustainable bottles rose, fewer respondents were willing to pay more, according to Thach’s study, with just 30% saying they would pay $5 more for a sustainably certified wine.

Stephanie Bolton, grower communications and sustainable winegrowing director for the Lodi Winegrape Commission, said; “Bogle’s support of the program contributed to a 26% increase in participation by acreage over 2016 (we are now at 45,810 certified acres). Several Bogle growers who were grumbling at the beginning of the certification year came back at the end of the year thanking us for the help in navigating certification requirements and telling us how much value they received from being in the program, beyond their expectations. Many of them are now helping their friends become certified for 2018.”

Posted on 01.06.2018 - 09:29:42 PST
Bogle always does things the right way!