Accountability Statement: July 2021 - July 2022
When we founded Legend in July of 2020, we launched it alongside a set of values that we wanted to define our business. In the past year, we’ve lived up to these values in many ways (and we’ve fallen short as well), but more than anything we’ve reaffirmed that these are values worth fighting for. We also pledged in July of 2020 that we’d release an annual accountability report—a way for us to stay accountable to our customers, our partners, and ourselves. We released the first in July of 2021, and here is our second. We hope to encourage an open dialogue and see this as a lifelong commitment.
- Free and accessible education is a hallmark of our offerings. On our website, you can read detailed regional guides as well as dozens of articles and Q&As devoted to Australian wine. Our social media is dedicated to teaching all about Australia (not just as it pertains to our producers, but all of Australia). Co-founder Jane has also published her wine study guides (on wine from all over the world)—available to all.
- We have made it a priority to discuss the human and environmental implications of the wine industry on public-facing channels including social media and our website. There is by far not enough general discussion of these issues and we recognize there is much more to be done in this area.
- We’ve held free and educationally-focused tastings in Atlanta, Burlington VT, Nashville, San Francisco, Napa, New York City, and Chicago.
- We’re writing a book on Australian wine! This book, called How to Drink Australian, will be published by Murdoch Books in August 2023. A core tenant of the book is addressing the First Nations history of wine regions, and of Australia as a whole. We will be donating a portion of our author proceeds to supporting the advancement of Indigenous causes, as well as inviting (and paying) members of First Nations to speak directly to our audience both in person and through digital educational programs. We are also committed to making copies of the book available to wine industry professionals who may not be able to afford them.
- We have been, and will continue to be, mentors for SommCon’s Mentorship Circles, designed to give mentorship opportunities to underserved communities in the wine industry.
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging
- Co-founders Jane and Jon participated in the second series of the Diversity in Wine Leadership virtual course taught by Akilah Cadet. We recognize that making an impact in this sphere requires copious learning and unlearning, and we are committed to this process. We understand that this be an ongoing education for years and years to come.
- We have included the voices of marginalized groups in our industry within our platforms – social media, our website, and our educational resources. There is always more work to do in this area, and we plan to continue to expand upon these offerings.
- When invited to speak, write, or contribute to other platforms, we have asked that individuals from historically marginalized and less privileged groups are included as well.
- We’ve supported the important work of the Hue Society and its regional chapters, and remain engaged to help its growth in any way that we can. A Nashville chapter will be opening this year, for which will be the chapter mentors.
- We continue to do work implementing the 2021 Wine Industry Equity Pledge. This pledge asks of its signees to do their part to combat white supremacy, patriarchy, homophobia, and environmental degradation in the wine industry (including support and accountability mechanisms to help facilitate real results). Many of our producers have signed onto the pledge, and we are supporting their efforts to achieve their goals within the Pledge’s framework.
- Jane has joined the board of the Vinguard, a 501(c)(3) committed to improving labor and farming practices in the wine industry.
- Through the Vinguard, Jane has worked with North Bay Jobs with Justice to help improve conditions for California farm-workers. Legend signed on to and promoted their petition for the Sonoma County Board of Directors to adopt fire safety and security measures for agricultural workers. This initiative saw great success when the Sonoma County Board of Directors voted unanimously to create an unprecedented $1 million disaster insurance fund for agricultural workers who lose income due to wildfires.
- Jane, supported and promoted by Legend, is currently running a fundraiser to help Mental Health Liberation, a 501(c)(3) that works to “provide quality therapy to BI&POC, empower clinicians of color, dismantle systemic inequity, and reclaim healing for melanated, marginalized, and displaced peoples” via their arm Inclusive Therapists.
- We’ve worked to make our social media more accessible to blind and low vision communities. The main tool to achieve this has been including image descriptions on our IG posts so that those using readers can access the content of the images.
- Jane wrote an article outlining the benefits that psychedelic medicine can provide to those suffering from mental health issues, as well as detailing the problems with equity that the industry is facing.
- We have been careful in selecting our producers, and we only work with those whose views on sustainability, labor practices, and overall values aligns with our own. 15 of our 26 producers are female-identifying owners and/or have female-identifying winemakers. We have added an Asian-Australian owned winery to the portfolio, a LGBTQ+ owned winery to the portfolio, as well as Australia’s only majority Indigenous-owned winery.
- We have been upfront with potential partners about our values, describing them and putting a link to our statement of values in our digital communications.
- We continue to bank with a certified B-Corp bank: Amalgamated. The issues for which they advocate include: climate change and sustainability, immigrant rights, LGTBQ rights, criminal justice and private prisons, workers’ rights, gun safety, and reproductive rights.
- Our printing partner for marketing materials is a certified B-Corp company, Smart Set, who print on 100% post-consumer recycled paper.
- We strive to partner with distributors who, at their core, are kind people that focus on communication and customer service. They are independently owned, and work to build the wine community within their markets.
Conduct & Bias
- We’ve encouraged all of our producers and distributors to read and sign the 2021 Justice & Equity Pledge (see above). This pledge outlines the ways we can more properly conduct ourselves in the industry to make it a safer, more equitable, and more environmentally-sustainable place.
- We’ve shared with our producers and distributors – personally, as well as via social media and our website – articles and readings on Indigenous relations, sustainable agriculture, DEI, and labor practices. We also continue to learn a significant amount about these areas from our partners, many of whom are experts on these topics.
- We are only representing producers who engage in sustainable agriculture, many of whom subscribe to organics or biodynamics.
- Since sustainable agriculture is such a complex topic, we’ve enlisted our producers to articulate their policies and practices on environmental sustainability, which now appears on our website.
- Instead of shipping our wine in refrigerated containers (which takes an incredible amount of energy), we ship using JF Hillebrand’s insulated containers and we ship exclusively below deck. We have a temperature sensor in our containers to ensure the wine is safe—we protect the integrity of our wine and the environment.
- We recognize the toll that shipping wine from the other side of the world can still take on our environment. We have offset our yearly carbon emissions via Native. Not only are we offsetting our carbon emissions, we aim to reduce them overall and become as carbon-neutral a company as possible. Please reach out if you’re interested in this process—we are happy to share.
- We have begun the development of a packaging innovation that could potentially reduce the carbon footprint of wine by 40%. Stay tuned!
- We have been active personally, with our votes, our dollars, and our actions. Over the past year, we have given money or resources to causes that we believe in: the Vinguard, the Hue Society, Lift Collective, National Network of Abortion Funds, Emily’s List, North Bay Jobs with Justice, The Vision Act, MetroWest YMCA, Lilith Fund, Illuminative, Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, Restoring Justice for Indigenous Peoples, and political campaigns of candidates who support human rights.
- Jane has been involved in an email-writing campaign for Grassroots Law, supporting counselors over cops in various school systems across the country. She is also on a volunteer research team to identify like-minded candidates in local elections across the country.
- We’ve been outspoken about the various failures of the Court of Master Sommeliers–in terms of racism, sexual assault/harassment, and the lack of transparency in examinations. We vehemently oppose the use of the word ‘master’ and have provided numerous alternatives.
- We’ve featured on our social media and on our website “visual tasting notes”. In addition to being limiting, wine descriptions are often a remnant of the colonial nature of wine (i.e. lots of Eurocentric vocabulary). We want to give space to alternative forms of expressing the taste profiles of wine.
- Further to decolonizing wine, the tasting notes on our tech-sheets use native Australian (rather than exclusively European) fruits, nuts, and herbs to describe our wines.
- Alongside a number of our producers, we have launched two Australian brands this year that embody good practices at a democratizing price—under $20 retail for each. We believe good wine should be accessible to all, and shouldn’t rely on exploited labor to do so. Check them out: Sunspell and Mother Block.
- We have started the process to become a certified B Corp! Stay tuned.
So much more to do!
We recognize our commitment is a lifelong one. Here are some areas we hope to make strides in the next year.
- We hope to complete our application to becoming a B Corp certified business.
- We have a book coming out next year that we have pledged to help make accessible to people in the wine industry that might not be able to afford it. We have also pledged a portion of our proceeds to Indigenous Australian causes.
- We will continue to conduct more free, educational tastings for the wine industry. We will make a concerted effort to include persons typically marginalized in our industry, including womxn and those from BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities.
- We will enlist (and pay) BIPOC individuals to educate beside us.
- We will focus more effort on providing resources on alcoholism.
- We want to pursue partnerships with more wineries and companies owned by womxn, and members of the BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities.
- We are in the process of developing more environmentally-friendly wine packaging, which has the potential to reduce the amount of energy and wastage in the wine industry dramatically.
- We are working toward becoming carbon neutral.
Last, we acknowledge that our existence within a white supremacy culture — where we are socialized by and benefit from that culture — hinders our ability to represent our values as fully as we wish. Thus:
- We will continue to examine the ways in which we uphold white supremacy, hetero-patriarchy, capitalism, and environmental-degradation and seek to change our ways.
- We will listen more intently to BIPOC partners, leaders, and thinkers, compensate them for their time and learnings as appropriate, and promise to do the heavy lifting of shifting our conduct ourselves.