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Ask Master of Wine, Susan McCraith to review your wine:
If you are a wine producer and would like me to review your wine, then please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org. Send me a sample and I will write a report on the presentation, tasting profile and target market and retail price. I have ten years' experience as a supermarket buyer as well as for independent wine merchants.
To showcase pockets of best environmental and social practice in the wine industry
Why create ethicalwine.com? Susan McCraith MW tells the story...
In 2006/7 there was so much talk about the environment and ethical issues that I decided to take a close look at my own industry - wine - in which I had been working as a buyer since 1990. I have to confess that until that point I had thought very little about the environmental impact of viticulture, vinification, transport and packaging. Organically grown wines were improving in quality and I knew there were some great biodynamic wines but for me it was still a fringe activity that I hadn't really taken seriously. On the social side, Fairtrade wines had started to appear but they were few and far between.
Once I started to research the ethical issues surrounding wine I realised a few things - some good and some bad. I hadn't realised just how many pesticides are used in viticulture. For example in France viticulture makes up around 3% of agricultural land but accounts for 20% of pesticide use (see table). This shows how important it is that we cut down as much as possible whilst still being able to produce a good quality product.
Just a couple of years on it is amazing to see the difference. There is palpable pressure for winegrowers to farm sustainably at the very least and a lot of progress is being made. There is a lot of really good work being done both on the environmental and social side in various countries. Many individual producers, producer groups, sustainable winegrowing programmes, packaging and transport companies are all making improvements. Ethicalwine.com aims to be a place which brings all this together and communicates both to the trade and to customers.
So... I created ethicalwine.com to celebrate the good things that are happening in the wine industry, to recommend wines that combine good quality with good ethics to people who want to buy them and also to showcase and spread best practice in every aspect of the wine industry.
My aim is that this website will become self-funding through industry support so that the information is available free to all. If you would like to contribute in any way, please do contact me: email@example.com
Our overheads are very low as we mainly work from home. We aim to be as environmentally responsible as possible, shredding office waste and using recycled stationery and products where possible and local suppliers.
A personal journey...
Born above an off-licence (how ironic is that!) in London, I did a degree in French at Exeter University and a year's postgraduate business studies. Then I decided to get a job in France in the drinks industry (as a student would!).
I spent six months in Bordeaux and two years with Hennessy Cognac before coming back to the UK to work for a Bristol wine merchant. I became a Director in 1992 and gained the Master of Wine qualification in 1994.
Headhunted by Waitrose in 1996 as a Central Buyer, I spent just over ten years there helping to build and shape the wine, beers and spirits assortment and marketing activities.
I am also one of the few female liverymen in the City of London's Vintners' Company. I have two children and a husband who is also in the wine trade, so guess what we talk about over dinner!
In 2007 I took the decision to leave the comfort and security of a full-time job working for one of the UK's best companies to go it alone. It was not an easy decision, as a wine buyer for Waitrose, most people would think I had the perfect job. I was well-paid and I got to travel to some of the world's loveliest vineyards!
I took six months leave to think about it, walked 50 miles round the Cornish coast (see photo!) and enrolled on a course to become a business coach. The course helped enormously as I acquired skills to help others as well as myself.
I set up ethicalwine.com and started to sell wines by mail order. However, as anyone in the wine industry will tell you, you have to have large volume and a big marketing budget for this to work and I just didn't have enough sales. I suppose it was the retailer in me thinking I had to do it that way. So ethicalwine.com is taking a new direction which I believe is actually going to help us achieve our aim even better than before.
Other interests: I am also a part-time lecturer on the Wine MBA at the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester and a partner in a Bristol wine merchant, Davis Bell McCraith.
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