Sustainable Practices and Wine Quality: Is there value in Certification? (Magali A. Delmas, UCLA & Olivier Gergaud, KEDGE Business School)
More and more wineries are using third-party eco-certification, such as organic or biodynamic certification, to communicate their sustainable practices. At the same time some wineries are adopting sustainable practices without third party certification. In France for example, some wineries self-proclaim themselves “Viticulture Raisonnée” (reasoned viticulture), a flexible approach to sustainability devoid of the rigidity of third party certification. The presence of these different sustainable practices raises the question of their comparative value. While previous research estimates that third party eco-certification leads to increased quality as evaluated by experts, it is unknown whether non-certified sustainable practices are also associated with quality improvements. Evaluating the impact of non-certified sustainability practices on quality is challenging due to the difficulty of identifying such practices. In this paper, we use French data on experts’ quality ratings from Gault Millau, Gilbert Gaillard and Bettane Desseauve, to compare the ratings of self-proclaimed sustainable wines to third party eco-certified wines and conventional wines. A total of 140,690 wines is analyzed. Preliminary findings based on different matching techniques indicate that self-proclaimed sustainable wines are of lower quality than conventional wines, while eco-certified wines are of higher quality than conventional wines. This suggest that non certified practices could be associated with greenwashing.