Sustainability is important to us. Scroll down to see how we're making a difference with efforts to reuse, reduce, and keep track of our carbon footprint.
Cork trees are amazing - the bark (cork) can be harvested and not damage the tree! Like oak forests they're managed very well. However, we've decided to take it a step further and use 'micro-aglo' corks.What are these? They're corks made from leftovers - smaller pieces that are remenets from cutting out corks. We've chosen these corks because they're 99% free of cork taint - we can't remember the last time we opened a bottle of 'corked' wine here at Wautoma. But the really cool thing? Because we're using a leftover of an already sustainable product, our carbon footprint is in the negative. We asked our vendor for stats and for 2023 our carbon impact was -7.0 metric tons of CO2!
The oak used for wine barrels is managed very well, and is a renewable resource. However - barrels are heavy, come from distances far away (and sometimes the travel is doubled depending on where the cooperage is). Our $30 line up of reds are mostly neutral oak - oak that's been used previously. We do this for stylistic choice to keep the fruit front and center, but it's also a dramatic decrease on our carbon footprint by reusing our barrels and limiting new barrel purchases.
Most of our fruit comes from Tom's vineyards - Wautoma Springs and JMST. All his vineyards are certified Sustainable WA. To learn more about the program visit here. Tom's also in partnership with Conner Lee Vineyard, where our Lil Inky Malbec comes from, and it's newly certified Sustainable WA!
Recycling any color of green bottle is difficult, but especially the various greens in wine bottles. To help, we've gone clear where we can - all our white wines are now in flint (clear) bottles, which are easy to recycle.
In the past, we've used heavy bottles for some of our wines. While we like the weight, as it adds a sense of substance, it's not worth the carbon footprint. Almost all of our bottles will be standard, lighter-weight moving forward. This not only saves on actual glass product, but reduces our shipping weight drastically - Long Vine still gets special treatment in a heavier bottle, but we've even slimmed him down.
We use aluminum capsules on our white wines - all screw tops which make for easy opening, serving and recycling! And we have ditched the foils on all our corked wine. While we liked the look - it's slightly outdated and only adds in packaging waste as they no longer serve a purpose other than aesthetics.
Cardboard and paper pulp are our choice for shipping, rather than styrofoam. These products are fully recycable or compostable and we're happy to use a local vendor that sources from an American company. All their products are made in the USA from North American paper timber and have a minium of 99% recycled content, purchased from charitable recycle centers in the US.
If you get a gift basket from us, or even our curated boxes, we mostly* use packaging material that has been used for products we've ordered. We even ask our staff to bring in packaging filler they receive at home.
*we like to add some tissue paper to make it pretty and we hope you reuse that! And, goes without saying any dirty or damaged material does not get reused.
Dishes w/ Character
We've got a few dishes with some war-scars (chips) that are still in our rotation. You may also notice, if you visit us, not all our plates match. We hate waste and it seems first-world wasteful to toss out a plate with a small chip in it, or replace a set that's no longer full. And a good portion of our dishes we bought second-hand. We like to think this helps makes us feel a bit more homey, too!
In the kitchen we use brown, unbleached paper towels. You'll find the same in our bathrooms for hand towels. And we use bamboo cocktail napkins in our tasting room. All these products break down easier and reduce chemicals in their processing.
During Spring -Fall we feature produce from a local produce vender - Buggirl's Garden. They are organic/low-impact (spot treating with powerful chemicals rather than over-spraying organic - farm is run by a bug scientist and an ag researcher). They focus on heirloom products and are as delicious as they are good for the enviroment.
Tinned seafood may be the most sustainable seafood you can eat. We import most of the tins we offer, but that's because they're from countries that have stricter sustainablity practices in place to conserve their ocean stock than we have here. And they're from small factories, focused on the highest quality.
Crulety Free Chocolate
There's a very sad side to something that brings joy to so many people. We make an effort to feature craft chocolate from producers that source their chocolate that's free of slave labor and poor environmental practices. That does mean these chocolates are more expensive, but we can't imagine why it's not worth it.
Conventional cleaning products emit toxins - and our employees (and ourselves) are breathing those in. We use the greenest/safest products we can find that are still in compliance with the Health Department.
If you're not familar - in the marketing world 'collateral' is all the stuff you use to market your business - rack cards, brochures, et al. We try to keep that to a minimum. If you get a box of wine from us you'll notice it absent of everything but the bare minium. Our wine club release information is a simple front/back page (curated club's different, by design, but we try to keep that minimal as well). We also re-use our tasting sheets inhouse as much as possible and when it's time to retire them, we cut them up to use for scratch paper. Haven't purchased one post-it pack or note pad since we opened nearly 5 years ago!
No Way Takeaway
We don't do take-out orders. One reason is we're not a restaurant. We want to provide food to be enjoyed inhouse with our wine as part of the experience. But an even bigger reason is we don't want to deal with to-go boxes. The best ones that retain food quality are the worst for the environment. Even the compostable kind mostly go to landfills where they don't break down any faster than standard containers. So we've ditched the takeout completely and invite you in, instead.
We offer plain kraft paper bags (compostable/recycleable) that are made in North America. Or, if you're purchasing 4+ bottles, reusable cloth bags (4 or 6 bottles). Did you know we also accept YOUR cloth bottle bags you've collected from various wineries? We don't care if they have a logo on them. As long as they're clean and free of pet hair, we're happy to reuse them!
Doing our Part
Every year we look at ways we can continue to grow our 'sustainability meter'. We'll add to this as we continue to improve our practices and figure out solutions.
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