Accountability Statement: Aug '22 - Nov '23
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 three years, 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, the second in the summer of 2022, and we have now completed the third. We hope to encourage an open dialogue and see this as a lifelong commitment.
The below headings represent the value pillars of Legend. Legend’s commitment to these values means that:
- Our day-to-day decision-making is made with these values in mind.
- We consider time spent to further these values a part of the work-day, even if the task at hand doesn’t directly relate to Legend.
- We provide support to our employees (just Jane and Jon right now) to do this work, even if there is not a direct financial benefit to Legend. We believe in the long-term importance of these values, and are confident that we will be a more successful company (both in terms of our social/environmental impact, but also our financial solvency) if we commit to and continue to refine them.
- 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, and make it a major topic in our in-person presentations to both the industry and the consumer. 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 across the country.
- Jane and Jon were both mentors in Lift Collective’s Entrepreneurship Program this year, teaching courses on forecasting strategy for businesses. Lift Collective is a community-centered, multi-channel platform advocating equity and inclusion in the wine industry.
- In August 2023, we published How to Drink Australian, a 500-page Australian wine book that seeks to be the go-to reference for Australian wine. A core tenant of the book is addressing the First Nations history of wine regions, and of Australia as a whole.
- We have made books available at a discount to members of the trade, so that the educational material can be more accessible to all.
- We have donated a portion of our author proceeds to supporting the advancement of Indigenous causes. So far, 10% of all proceeds has been split between three Indigenous Australian organizations that we find important: Antar, Seed, and Firesticks. We will continue to donate to these (or other) Indigenous organizations as we receive proceeds from the book.
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging
- Jane & Jon’s book, How to Drink Australian, is the first major wine book to detail the Indigenous history of each wine region. In addition to the history, we also chronicle the current reconciliation and reparation efforts, as well as how modern-day vintners are deriving wisdom and land-care strategies from Indigenous teachings.
- We’ve encouraged our winery partners, when designing labels, to include a First Nations acknowledgement on them.
- 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.
- 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.
- Jane is a member of 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 has been a regular contributor to their annual fundraisers.
- Jane, supported and promoted by Legend, ran 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. She has raised over $1500 for Mental Health Liberation.
- We observed NAIDOC week (National Aboriginal and Islanders Day Observance Committee) by dedicating our daily stories to learning more about the original custodians of wine regions, and we regularly post and repost content relating to Indigenous Australia.
- 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. Making our website more accessible is one of our large goals for next year.
- 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 one of Australia’s only majority Indigenous-owned wineries. We have also begun working with a B-Corp certified winery, whose inspiring impact commitment includes giving back to the earth and its original custodians. We believe it’s important to champion all these producers and help them find the best financial outcomes, so they can continue to do great work in the world.
- 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.
- We will hold partners accountable, and expect them to do the same of us.
- We have created a Stakeholder Advisory Board. This is part of the B-Corp certification (see Community Impact), and brings together many of our partners and community members to help us become a better partner and a better company in terms of our social and environmental impact.
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 only represent producers who engage in sustainable agriculture, many of whom employ strict 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. The global diversity of farming shows us that organics and biodynamics can be one-size-fits-all approach, and we highlight the nuanced approach that each of the farms we represent uses in their own induvial pursuit of working more sustainably. Therefore, we accept the use of select synthetic compounds in the vineyard, providing their usage is non-residual, does not impact the health and safety of the vineyard workers, and does not have a negative impact on the ongoing health of the land.
- 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 to hear more about 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 started the process to become a certified B Corp! In brief, B-Corps are businesses that are verified to meet high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. We view this as a journey to become not only the most environmentally and socially positive business that we can be, but also a financially responsible business that best serves its partners. Though we expect this process to be a long one with so few personnel at Legend, it is an important one. So far, we have:
- We assembled an Advisory Board. We enlisted people in our orbit – suppliers, customers, investors, environmental and community leaders, and others whose lives and livelihoods are affected by the operations of Legend – to help us hold ourselves accountable as well as improve upon business practices, environmental and social outcomes, and financial responsibilities. We have assembled an incredible group of 14 people, who will help Legend be the best business that we can be.
- We began the process of writing our company handbook, which will detail our value statement, company policies, code of conduct, and more.
- We have been active personally, with our votes, our dollars, and our actions. Over the past several years, 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 volunteers with Southern Crossroads, an organization that works to make sure low-income renters in the South have access to safe, comfortable, and affordable housing.
- 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’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.
- In cooperation with a number of our producers, we have launched two Australian brands last year that embody good practices at a democratizing price—under $18 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 hope to complete our application to become a B Corp certified business in the next year. As we go through the process, we will be presented with more and more ways that we can become more aligned with our values, and we hope that this list will grow exponentially in the years to come.
Last, we acknowledge that our existence within a white supremacy culture — where we are socialized by and benefit from that culture — means that we must continue to work to live up to these values each day. 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.
Thank you for taking the time to read.
Jane Lopes & Jonathan Ross