Accountability Statement: July 2020 - July 2021
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. Here it is! 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 four detailed regional guides (more to come!) 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. Some examples of our own original writings on these topics include these articles on the Importance of Language, Acknowledgement of Country, and Australia’s Climate Future.
- As COVID-19 restrictions have eased, we’ve held free and educationally-focused tastings in Atlanta, Burlington VT, New York City, and Chicago.
- We’re writing a book on Australian wine! This book, title TBD, will be published by Hardie Grant in September 2022. 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 taught a free virtual masterclass on Tasmanian wine, sponsored by Wine Australia as well as individual importers (including ourselves).
- 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, and Belonging
- Co-founders Jane and Jon participated in 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 have led an “acknowledgment of country” at the beginning of many of the events we’ve done this year, including our virtual Tasmania class (see “Education”) and the WINeFare panel Jane moderated (see “Environment”).
- 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.
- We have worked with a large group on updating 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). We have recently sent the pledge to our producers and distributors for them to sign on, and we will support their efforts to achieve their goals within the Pledge’s framework.
- 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. Eleven of our sixteen producers are female-identifying owners and/or have female-identifying winemakers. We are speaking with several BIPOC-owned wineries about joining our portfolio. We understand that current BIPOC representation in Australia’s wine industry is sorely lacking, and one of our goals for next year is to find ways we can help break down some of these barriers to entry.
- 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 have chosen 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.
- We will hold partners accountable, and expect them to do the same of us.
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 sustainability, which will appear on our website shortly.
- Jane moderated a panel on Australian wine for WINeFare, focusing on sustainable viticulture and regenerative farming amongst female-identifying farmers and winemakers in Australia.
- 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 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: Intersectional Environmentalist, Project 562, the Vinguard, the Hue Society, Vines4Votes, Freedom Reads, Real Justice PAC, Another Round Another Rally, Grassroots Law, Common Ground, Lift Collective, 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 “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 developed two Australian brands this year that embody good practices at a democratizing price—around $15 retail for each. These are yet to launch, so stay tuned for the announcements. We believe good wine should be accessible to all.
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’re consulting accessibility specialists to make our educational offerings and wine packaging more accessible to blind, low vision, deaf, and hard of hearing communities.
- We will launch our $15 brands (see above), making delicious and consciously-made wine more available to all.
- Free and educational tastings will become a focus of our next year, as most states are fully open (and people are feeling more comfortable being in public). 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 research and act on ways to help break down barriers of entry for marginalized groups in the Australian wine industry.
- 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.
- We are compiling data on labor practices and sustainability to add to our producer profiles on our website.
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.
- We will use humility and compassion to engage others in pursuing more equitable outcomes in our field.