Sustainable Wine Professional Course

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2019: $14,842.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2021
Grant Recipient: Bedell Cellars
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Whitney Beaman
New York Wine & Grape Foundation

Information Products


  • Fruits: grapes


  • Education and Training: workshop, online
  • Farm Business Management: agritourism
  • Production Systems: sustainable certification
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures

    Proposal summary:

    Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing is seeking a grant to create and produce an online Sustainable Wine Professional course. Since 2012, LISW has been successful in providing grower education and certification according to the VineBalance New York Guide to Sustainable Viticulture. With 50 percent certification by vineyard acreage, and 21 member properties, it is now time to initiate education and training strategies for the frontline staff that drive the marketability and sales of Long Island wine. The aim of this course is to elevate the value perception of Sustainable Certification in the marketplace and drive a premium for sustainably farmed wine and grape products from our region. The target audience for this course would be winery employees who hold customer-facing roles, including tasting room, wine club and wholesale staff.

    Non-member winegrowers who practice VineBalance, and other wine professionals, including distributors, retailers, and media, would also be encouraged to take the course. Previous attempts at educating support staff in the selling points of sustainable wines have proved challenging, as the concepts of sustainable viticulture are not commonly understood outside of the vineyard. We aim to improve the ease and efficacy of staff training, by providing a one-hour online education module. This course would present the general concepts of sustainable viticulture in an accessible and engaging way, alongside detailed information about Long Island’s ecosystem, grape varieties and wines. The course would conclude with an online exam based on the physical characteristics and sustainable farming practices that make the Long Island wine region unique.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project seeks to enhance the value perception of Long Island wines by elevating our regional Sustainable Certification in the minds of consumers. The intended outcome of this course is to build a $1 to $3 sustainable production premium into the product identity of Long Island wine, as a counterbalance to high costs of production, and promote sustainable viticulture within the region. This will be achieved through an online education course for public-facing winery employees that presents the concepts and value proposition of sustainable viticulture in the Northeast, which will enhance the communication of these points in winery customer interactions. This course will elaborate on the VineBalance New York Guide to Sustainable Viticulture as the basis for LISW Sustainable Certification. A description of the ecosystem of Long Island, including soil types, bodies of water, and native wildlife, will also be provided for context. This course will conclude with a summary of the benefits of sustainable winegrowing for the environment, neighboring community and quality of wine. Success of this project will increase the visibility and comprehension of LISW Sustainable Certification among consumers, thereby strengthening market presence and increasing profitability for our growers.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.