At VECKTA, we find a helpful first step to achieving lasting, tangible goals in sustainability is drawing inspiration from other food and beverage companies that successfully use green technology.
Jackson Family Wines, a California-based winery, is our latest feature in our Sustainability Stories Series. As the largest solar-powered winery in the country, Jackson Family Wines is leading the global wine community in climate action and environmental stewardship.
From Family Farmers to Global Leaders: The History of Jackson Family Wines
Jackson Family Wines has been family owned since founder Jess Jackson planted his first chardonnay grapes in 1974. Hand-selling bottles across the country with his daughters, Jackson saw his business take off with his first vintage in 1982. Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve became the #1 selling Chardonnay in the U.S., a title it’s continued to hold for more than 2 decades and counting.
The small California-based vineyard grew into an enterprise consisting of 40 wineries across 6 continents. The foundation of running their successful winery has always included a dedication to sustainable practices.
Sustainability at Jackson Family Wines
“Take care of the land and it will take care of you,” says Katie Jackson, about her family’s long-lived philosophy in sustainable winemaking.
As Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility, Katie has led Jackson Family Wines in several climate action initiatives, showcasing the company’s continued history of environmental stewardship and social responsibility.
Since 2015, Jackson Family Wines has achieved the following sustainability goals:
- Reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 17.5%, equivalent to taking 4,173 cars off the road every year
- The largest solar-powered wine company in the U.S.
- 60% of lands remain in a natural state
- Reduced the amount of water needed for their vineyards by 43%
Jackson Family Wines Climate Action Leadership
Jackson Family Wines has become globally recognized for its leadership in climate action. In 2019, Katie Jackson co-founded International Wineries for Climate Action (IWCA) with Miguel Torres of Spain’s Familia Torres to build a spirit of stewardship and action among the global community of wineries. The two also signed a commitment to reduce carbon emissions.
With this commitment, Jackson Family Wines and IWCA joined the United Nations’ Race to Zero Campaign, a global campaign formed to rally leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions, and investors for a healthy, resilient, zero-carbon recovery that prevents future threats, creates decent jobs, and unlocks inclusive sustainable growth.
Rooted for Good: Roadmap to 2030
On a more personal level, Jackson Family Wines recently launched Rooted for Good: Roadmap to 2030. This is a comprehensive 10-year action plan to achieve goals towards cutting the company’s own carbon emissions, preserving natural habitats and waterways, building soil health, increasing biodiversity, conserving water, and reducing the amount of energy needed for production.
Here are the Jackson family’s four main goals on the Roadmap to 2030:
- Cut carbon emissions in half by 2030 and become climate positive by 2050
- Create a workspace centered around diversity, equity, and inclusion, while empowering employees to foster more resilient communities
- Transition each of their estate vineyards to regenerative farming
- Enhance local watersheds by conserving water and improving water quality
Let’s take a closer look at what Jackson Family Wines is doing to achieve some of these goals!
Goal: Decarbonizing and Becoming Climate Positive
With more on-site solar energy than any other winery in the U.S., renewable energy powers more than 30% of its operations. By 2025, the winery plans to meet more than 50% of its energy needs through additional on-site renewable projects, such as a utility-scale wind turbine and floating solar arrays–which will be “equivalent to taking 1,033 cars off the road every year.”
The winery has also established a light-weighted glass program, with glass bottles made of more than 50% recycled glass. They are also working to decarbonize their supply chain by working with glass suppliers to develop innovative packaging alternatives while transitioning their transportation fleet to zero-emission vehicles.
Goal: Conserve Water and Improve Local Watersheds
The winery has saved 28 million gallons of water each year due to its recycling, capture, and conservation programs, particularly in the barrel-washing process. Facilities now use two-thirds less water in the process by reusing the same water multiple times.
In its vineyards, the winery captures rainwater from rooftops and surface water from reservoirs to clean and cool their wine cellars. They’ve even designed a system to redirect floodwater and run-off into vineyards during rainy seasons, improving water quality and groundwater levels.
Other practices such as real-time water metering, waterless UV tank sanitation, and air-cooled refrigeration have further reduced their water consumption.
Jackson Family Wines also makes efforts toward preserving local watershed habitats.
Watch this video to see their efforts in restoring a local stream to support an endangered salmon species.
Goal: Transition 100% of Vineyards to Regenerative Farming
A key aspect of sustainable winemaking is maintaining the land. And not only the land the grapes grow on, but the ecosystems nearby. Jackson Family Farms operates in harmony with the land through green practices like regenerative farming, preserving local geography, and reducing waste.
Regenerative farming is a system of farming and viticulture principles and practices that:
- increase biodiversity
- enrich soil health
- improve watersheds
- enhance ecosystem services
Key tenets of regenerative farming include:
- adding carbon-rich compost to the soils
- reducing or eliminating tillage
- introducing livestock into vineyard environments
- planting a biodiverse range of cover crops
These methods are also showing promise in capturing and sequestering carbon within agricultural soils, a critical nature-based solution for helping reverse climate change.
As an example, the winery uses cover crops to encourage beneficial insects and reduce soil erosion, while composting and less tillage promotes soil health. This supports vines in absorbing water and important nutrients, leading to healthier vines and better-quality wine.
Preservation of Native Grasslands, Waterways and Waste Reduction
Jackson Family Wines also preserves native grasslands and waterways, keeping more than 60% of its land in its natural state. They’re aware of the importance of reducing waste too, with 98% of their waste kept out of landfills, including 1,353 tons of recyclables and 13,328 tons of organics.
Maintaining natural ecosystems and reducing waste contributes to long-term environmental benefits, both locally and on a broader, global scale. Benefits include:
- greater biodiversity
- carbon sequestering
- conservation of natural resources
- higher air and water quality
- preservation of usable and enjoyable land for future generations
Achievements in reduction of carbon emissions and water consumption, reducing waste, establishing long-term energy solutions, and preserving the biodiversity and geography of the land their grapes grow on has earned Jackson Family Wines notable recognition in the past decade:
- Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing (CCSW) (2010)
- First solar panels installed (2012)
- Drinks Business Green Company of the Year (2013)
- Collaborates on a pilot project with Tesla Energy (2015)
- EPA Green Power Leadership Awards (2013, 2016, 2018)
- California Green Medal Leader Award (2016)
Finding Continued Success at Jackson Family Wines
Jackson Family Wines continues to invest in sustainable winemaking projects to spread best practices of sustainable winemaking.
In 2013, the University of California, Davis opened the Jess S. Jackson Sustainable Winery Building. The Jackson family committed $3 million to fund the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum-Certified teaching and research facility, and with the addition of the Jackson Building, the facility is the most advanced and most sustainable winery in the world. The winery is also the first in the world to become self-sufficient in both energy and water.
Last fall, Jackson Family Wines promoted its own education in sustainable winemaking. As part of Rooted for Good, the company hosted a five-part series of masterclasses on fostering a sustainable future for the wine industry.
Final Thoughts on Sustainability in the Wine-Making Industry
Jackson Family Wines is setting the bar for what’s possible with green technology in the food and beverage industry. Growing and evolving with improvements in green tech, the company proves that innovation in sustainability is not only possible but a necessary pillar in running a successful business.
VECKTA works with businesses like Jackson Family Wines that are committed to finding long-term sustainability solutions. We help companies make lasting change by matching clients with our vetted energy partners to design, finance, and build onsite microgrids or other distributed energy systems
If you’re looking for adaptable, cost-effective, and resilient solutions for a more sustainable company, reach out to us here at VECKTA. We’re thrilled to forge a new, more sustainable, and cost-effective path with you.