It is hard for one to equate responsibility with wine. Don’t we sometimes drink wine to escape the world of responsibilities? There are ways, however that this concept comes up in the wine industry.
The first and most obvious is the responsibility of one serving what is, in large doses, a dangerous substance. We serve wine to allow our guests to loosen up and enjoy their experience. It can be tough to cut them off once they over indulge. If they do, the consequences are brutal. Yes, it sucks to have to clean up a vomited-in restroom or champagne bucket (I have done both), but even worse is finding out that your guest drove away from dinner and got a DUI. Worse than that is if they harm themselves or someone else while intoxicated.
Did you know that in this scenario the bar they drank at can be sued and fined for over-serving the guest? So it is the responsibility of the establishment to monitor how much of the good juice we pour. The ABC also puts into our hands the responsibility of keeping minors from drinking at our bars. While a bouncer at the door of a bar isn’t an issue for most, carding a young looking person who is having a business dinner can be awkward. Once again, if caught, a severe fine awaits both the restaurant and the individual pouring the kid a drink.
Finally, the opportunity to support wineries that believe in social or environmental responsibility is close to my heart. At Kimpton we offer a complimentary wine hour to all of our hotel guests and go through thousands of cases of wine each month doing so. It is purchasing power like this that allows me to encourage the practices that I want to see in the world. I also believe that by supporting wineries that embrace this kind of responsibility we encourage them to continue.
Our wine program is called Wines that Care. All of the wines that I chose are either good stewards of their community, the environment or the world. For example, Wente, with their Farming for the Future program, offers great sustainably farmed wines. Banrock Station, or June wine, is working hard to preserve wetlands around the planet and Barefoot works with the Surfrider foundation to clean up beaches. Profitability is certainly important for our businesses, but when we take our buying power to the next level and advocate with our money the practice of thinking bigger than our bottom line, the rewards are tenfold.