Sasha Chebil

Communications Manager, We Mean Business Coalition

Amidst the Threat of Wildfires, Clif Family Winery & Farm Builds a Better Future

As a vineyard based in wildfire-prone Napa Valley, California, Clif Family Winery & Farm doesn’t just know about the risks of climate change—they’ve struggled through them. Disastrous wildfires caused by climate change have displaced employees, severely damaged land and products, and made the small, family-owned business even more resolute to step up for the planet.  

 “We’ve seen firsthand that we must take action now to protect our community and our people for the future,” says Clif Family Winery & Farm President Linzi Gay.  

The small-production wine and specialty food business owned by Clif Bar & Company co-founders Gary Erickson and Kit Crawford turned these problems into a serious climate-action strategy. Clif Family Winery & Farm joined the SME Climate Hub to make strides toward its emission reduction targets, with innovative solutions that have already yielded widespread results.

Climate action is ingrained in the brand ethos 

Protecting the planet has been part of Clif Family Winery & Farm’s DNA since day one. This mission informs everything from business processes to the product itself. 

“We craft unique, regional wine and foods using practices that care for the Earth and support sustainable and organic farming,” Gay says of the brand mission. “We encourage our employees to “Think Like a Tree” in all aspects of our business. Trees run on renewable energy, recycle all waste, and sustain and improve the places they grow.”  

With climate-conscious agricultural and business practices, Clif Family Winery & Farm integrates this “Think Like a Tree” mindset across the company. This includes their 100% CCOF organic certification, Napa Green Vineyard certification, and recent SME Climate Hub commitment. 

Steps toward emission reductions 

Gay says the SME Climate Hub tools like the Business Carbon Calculator have helped Clif Family Winery & Farm hone in on their emissions sources, with critical accountability to meet those emission-reduction targets. At this stage, the company is focusing its efforts on reducing Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. 

To achieve this, they’ve generated several out-of-the-box strategies. The winery has enrolled in the not-for-profit electric provider MCE’s 100% Deep Green Power initiative, a program through which the entirety of a company’s supplied energy comes from non-polluting wind and solar power produced in California, and they have made key changes to their own operations. 

“We’ve installed solar panels on our new office and tasting room,” says Gay. “This year, we also used sheep in the vineyard for weed control and fertilization.” The latter is particularly important because, according to Gay, the company’s main source of Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions come from fuel used for the vineyard’s vehicles and tractors. 

Building a climate-action strategy also helped Clif Family Winery & Farm uncover an innovative product line beloved by customers: Solar Grown Honey products. This line is made from honey sourced from pollinator-friendly solar farms, which ultimately reduces emissions and fosters important pollinator habitats.  

While their current focus involves cutting Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, Gay acknowledges the team wants to take their work much further. “We’re just now setting the foundation for the future,” she says, noting Scope 3 reductions are a critical future goal. “A big part of our plans in 2022 include working with our co-packers and supply chain partners to get a baseline of our emissions, and to determine what work we can do with these partners to reduce our emissions.” 

Remembering your company’s “why” 

For Clif Family Winery & Farm, the negative effects of climate change are not an “if” situation. “As an agricultural company with wine as our primary product, we have seen the impacts of climate change firsthand with changing weather and the increased number and intensity of wildfires,” notes Gay. 

They know what a future without climate action looks like—and they know we still have the power to mend it, for the good of business and the good of the planet. “Our farming community needs support regarding the effects of wildfires, both those we have experienced and those that are to come.” 

Like Clif Family Winery & Farm, your team can make climate-action strides that protect the planet—and your business—for the future by making the SME Climate Commitment. Here’s how to start.