May 7, 2025 | Charles Krug Winery, Carriage House


Since the early 1990s, when sustainability hit the stage as a critical element of business leadership, social equity was always inherent to being sustainable. We can’t have environmental or economic sustainability without social sustainability. Over time the equity element has been sidelined, and increasingly sustainability has become synonymous solely with environmental stewardship. In fact, real sustainability is about caring for the health and resilience of nature and environment, the health and resilience of employees and community, all of which contributes to the success and longevity of businesses.

In the wine industry, social equity focuses on issues like farmworker training, living wage, affordable housing, and opportunities for advancement. In addition, we have to acknowledge that industry leadership has been overwhelmingly white- and male-dominated. There are myriad opportunities to elevate diversity and inclusion, creating openings and opportunities for people of color (POC). 

Here are some examples of how sustainable wineries and vineyards are addressing social equity, justice and inclusion:

  • Encouraging and paying for workers to attend ESL, computer skills and other continuing education courses from groups like the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation
  • Having team leads participate in Diversity in Wine Leadership Forum workshops
  • Arranging implicit bias training with groups like CircleUp Education
  • Whenever possible, hiring farmworkers year-round, recognizing the value-add of their site-specific vineyard knowledge
  • Leveraging the H-2A system (temporary agricultural employment of foreign workers) and hiring the same crew annually, providing them with work consistency and security
  • Validating that Farm Labor Contractors are providing essential training, safety protocols and adequate housing (where relevant)
  • Offering the vineyard team the opportunity to get inside the winery and engage with wine production, and in parallel offering the winery team the opportunity to get out in the vineyard and experience grape growing first hand