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Online Retailer Sees Benefits of Dry Farming; Consumers Ask About Sustainability

by Erin Kirschenmann
March 10, 2020

In 2017, Barcelona-based Holly Berrigan realized that finding natural wine in the United States, her home country, wasn’t as simple as she felt it could be. After brainstorming a couple different ways of working in the wine trade, she found that importing natural wines was the way forward and founded MYSA Natural Wine.  

Focusing on smaller producers that believe in minimal intervention, she and her partner Nic run the MYSA online wine shop, importing and selling sustainably farmed natural wines direct to American consumers. From her standpoint as an online retailer, she has watched how other industries have moved forward in sustainability and sees her customers taking note.

Berrigan is a strong proponent of dry farming, a practice common around Europe, and she will speak on the topic at the Women in Wine Expo, held May 7-8, 2020 in Lake Lopota, Georgia. "As a company, we are passionate about two causes, sustainability and women in wine. We support many initiatives in both areas and are very excited to be able to network with other women in the industry in Georgia this summer," Berrigan said. "We work to build a portfolio that represents women-owned wineries and I look forward to meeting female producers from all over the world at the expo as well as explore the country of Georgia, as it’s a mecca for natural wine and a great fit for our portfolio."

Ahead of her presentation, Wine Business Monthly asked her a few questions about dry farming, consumer trends and the future of wine.

WBM: How do you define "sustainability"?
Berrigan: I define sustainability in wine as being thoughtful about how wine is produced, to factor in all areas including natural resources like water, human resources like the people working the land and their well-being, as well as reducing or eliminating the non-natural components like pesticides and other chemicals that harm the land and its long-term viability to produce great wine.
WBM: Why do you think dry farming is the way forward?
Berrigan: Dry farming is how wine was made for thousands of years. It is irrigation that is new. Beyond the ecological and financial implications of saving water and money, it also produces stronger vines with greater character. We’ll take a deeper look at this in my presentation in May at the Women in Wine Expo. 
WBM: Are consumers asking for sustainable wines? Will they pay more for certified wines? 
Berrigan: Consumers are definitely asking more questions about sustainability in wine and will pay more for it. Generally, they know it can be difficult to obtain the certifications and likely see it as an indication of quality as well as environmental stewardship. I have specific statistics on this we’ll discuss at the Expo as well. Our company, MYSA Natural Wine, is partnered with 1% for the Planet and offsets the carbon footprint of our wines from cellar to the consumer. This is not only a cause we’re passionate about, but also a great way to market to these consumers, as these are the causes they care about as well.
WBM: If you had to envision a future for wine, what would that look like?
Berrigan: As in the food and fashion industry, the way forward with the next generation is through sustainability. Millennials and Generation Z vote with their dollars and pay more for products made sustainably. I believe we will see more wines certified organic than not in the next two generations (especially in the EU) and we will start seeing a shift with climate change in the grapes planted in traditional wine regions, as well as new wine regions appearing that I’ll discuss in the presentation.

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