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Down to Earth Month: Sustainability with Beth Novak Milliken of Spottswoode Estate
Episode 425th April 2022 • St. Supéry Sips • St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery
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Sustainability is an essential part of the company ethos at St. Supéry Estate Vineyards and Winery. For years, the winery has maintained Napa Green Winery and Napa Green Vineyard certifications, which are designed to protect the land and environment through practices like cover-cropping in the vineyards, generating energy through solar arrays, and water conservation.

In honor of “Down to Earth Month” in April, St. Supéry CEO Emma Swain invited another Napa Valley leader in sustainability, Beth Novak Milliken, president and CEO of Spottswoode Estate, to join her on the St. Supéry Sips podcast for a discussion about what distinguishes different eco-focused certifications, and the importance taking care of the environment and our communities.

Transcripts

Emma Swain:

Hello, everyone. Welcome to St. Supery Sips. I am Emma Swain. I'm the CEO here at St. Supery Estate Vineyards and Winery in the beautiful Napa Valley. And I'm so thrilled to have with us today Beth Novak Milliken, president and CEO of Spottswoode Winery, also here in the beautiful Napa Valley and one of our esteemed leaders and sustainability here in Napa as we celebrate down to Earth Month in California.

Emma Swain:

eth has joined Spottswoode in:

Emma Swain:

tal causes she holds dear. In:

Emma Swain:

So welcome, Beth.

Beth Novak Milliken:

Thank you. Very much. I'm glad to be here. Thank you.

Emma Swain:

Thanks. It's great to see you. And you and I first met in our involvement in the Napa Valley vintners and the land trust of Napa County in the early nineties. And you have been a huge advocate of sustainability in that valley since the very beginning. And, you know, you have so many certifications at Spottswoode and so many different programs going on.

Emma Swain:

But tell me kind of what started this movement for the planet with you and your family to be so thoroughly dedicated and such a great pillar of everything that you do at Spottswoode?

Beth Novak Milliken:

. He came on board with us in:

Beth Novak Milliken:

tarted farming organically in:

Beth Novak Milliken:

And then basically since then, I mean, we were at organics for a long time and then we, you know, started doing other things bit by bit. Restoration of the Spring Creek, which borders the southern boundary of our estate vineyard. It's a little in-town creek. We have neighbors on the other side and then, you know, solar in 1% for the planet and it kind of went on from there.

Beth Novak Milliken:

But that was really, I would say Tony Soter certainly planted that seed early about caring for our natural environment.

Emma Swain:

our organic certification in:

Beth Novak Milliken:

Yes.

Emma Swain:

So that's great. So there's, there's a lot of different certifications in the wine business and people are always asking me what's Napa Green? What's what's bee friendly? What's biodynamic, what's organic? And I think it'd be great today to go through for our listeners and talk about those different certifications as you have so many with Napa Green Vineyard and Winery.

Emma Swain:

You're certified organic, you're certified biodynamic, you're a certified B-corporation. 1% for the planet. True Zero waste gold certification, carbon free fund, member international wineries of climate action member - And so all of those are fantastic organizations, but they all have a little bit different twist as well. So maybe we could just start out with Napa Green and talk about what that means to you in the in the Vineyard and the winery, because I think the winery component often gets lost in the discussion.

Beth Novak Milliken:

Yes. So Napa Green and you're you're also members of Napa Green at St. Supery as I know it. So you can speak to it as well as I can, and we can go back and forth. Now, the Green Winery as a certification has always been a rigorous certification. And it it measures it just looks at your at your operations and how are you operating and are you operating at the highest level just in terms of water use and electric use and just keeping an eye on and how and how you get electricity, everything, you know, what you're using and how and how you're operating.

Beth Novak Milliken:

And that's always been a good certification. The Napa Green Vineyard is really exciting because it's been it's been retooled and made significantly more rigorous and it's made us much more interested in it. It was originally created to sort of respond to some regulatory needs vis-a-vi, I believe, the storm water and that sort of thing and ultimately what has happened is a woman named Anna Britton has has taken it on - the Napa Valley vintners, by the way, which I'm back on the board of.

Beth Novak Milliken:

But it was instrumental in starting Napa Green many years ago for its members. And then it's peeled off so that it's broader now. And since Anna took it on, it's really something that I'm really proud of. What she's done, she's worked really hard and she has a board that works with her, but to really arrive at an approach to how we manage our land, but it also includes how do we manage not just our land, but the groundwater underneath it.

Beth Novak Milliken:

If - how do we care for forests. It's very much pro forestation, which means don't tear out forests and try to reforest. Just don't don't tear out the forests. Right. Keep them there. It's about caring for your employees and and allowing for just ensuring that that every aspect of your operation is cared for in a really humane and and environmentally sensitive way.

Beth Novak Milliken:

And so for us, it's been exciting to pursue this new certification, which we just got. And, you know, it's it does take some real doing so I think Napa Green is is a really great program. And I hope that we can encourage many, many others to to join up and be a part of this new, more rigorous program.

Emma Swain:

, I think we're a little over:

Emma Swain:

Green Winery certification in:

Emma Swain:

We were recycling all our water, we were composting all our wine waste and all of these things that we think that's a big impact but what we found when we looked at the business is we weren't doing enough of the little stuff and all that little stuff adds up. With the light bulbs that you're using, with your recycling and, you know, the business components that any business can sort of take and ensure that they're doing. From composting in the lunchroom to recycling in the office and trying not to print anything.

Beth Novak Milliken:

Exactly. You know, that that is what you bring up is the really interesting part. I mean, there is there is time and effort into any of these certifications. You have to gather information because if you don't gather information, you can't get the data back that tells you where you are and where you can improve. So it is a commitment of time.

Beth Novak Milliken:

But the payback, in a lot of ways, is quite remarkable. I mean, if we can - all of these things, I mean - using better light bulbs as an example, depending on the size of your operation, I mean, it actually saves you money, too. So it makes business sense as well as just being the right thing to do.

Beth Novak Milliken:

And I think that's I think that's what's so informative is that you can make change based upon information that you have. I mean, you can't we can't manage what you can't what you don't measure. And so it's it's great to be able to do this.

Emma Swain:

Yeah. I think that my other favorite thing about Napa Green is the recertification and process every three years and having to do better. And after our first recertification, we created a green team at the winery with people from each department. And that team looks at those measurements every month and looks at how much solar power we're generating.

Emma Swain:

You know, do we need to clean the panels? Are we doing our best in water conservation? And so I think it gets everyone focused and kind of excited about it. Once you're once you're measuring, you know, you can do better.

Beth Novak Milliken:

Exactly. And all of these certifications are like that. I mean. Exactly. I mean, B-Corp, as an example, you recertify every three years and you continuously try to increase the number of points. And in that case, you know, you can get a quarter of a point here, and it's, you know, three quarters of a point there and 1.5 points there it's it's amazing how they measure them, but they're really measuring every aspect of what you do.

Beth Novak Milliken:

And so it's like like exactly what you just said. I mean, we're doing the exact same thing here is that you keep looking at what you're doing and looking at ways to make incremental improvements. And that feels really good, too. And it does get your team really engaged and all on the same page, sort of moving in the same direction.

Beth Novak Milliken:

And it's a great sense of sort of community and camaraderie coming together to do these things.

Emma Swain:

Absolutely. And, you know, one of the other things, you are certified biodynamic, which we are not, but I often get the question on what makes biodynamics different from organics from Napa Green, because there's so many things that are similar, like doing cover crops and and a lot of the things that we do. But there is a lot more to it than that.

Emma Swain:

Do you want to speak to maybe that the differences between organic and biodynamic or similarities.

Beth Novak Milliken:

Yeah, I mean - I think I can and it and it's a little bit nebulous, but it's not, it's just sort of hard it's hard to explain. So organics is really just the just you don't use you don't use herbicides or pesticides in essence. Right. You're farming your vineyard without chemicals. So it's very sort of I don't want to say it's prescriptive, but you you you're using you're not using chemicals at all in your vineyard.

Beth Novak Milliken:

thing like that. I mean since:

Beth Novak Milliken:

You have grape vines and you have grape vines. So what we're doing and what you're also doing is building biodiversity into the vineyard, right? So we have insectaries along the whole or along the border of our vineyard, we have olive trees all the way around it. We have different pockets where we're allowing for I mean, the birdlife in our vineyard is actually remarkable, right?

Beth Novak Milliken:

So we have all of these different things and we have bee - we've actually bought more recently these bee logs that are actually strapped to trees, right? So they're not bee boxes where we're forcing bees into our human sort of construct. And because we want to get that honey, these are these are bee these are amazing things where we're just allowing bees to live while right.

Beth Novak Milliken:

They it's a home for them to be sterile and to live wild. We will not collect, honey. It's just it's a home for them and it's a safe home for them. Whereas bee boxes can often get attacked by beetles and other things. So when you look at biodynamics to get to your back to your question, you know, it's a more holistic approach.

Beth Novak Milliken:

You're looking at how does your vineyard fit into the whole sort of system? And it can be celestial, it can be it can just be, you know, the moon. And whether it's whether it's fall or whether it's not fall, we don't pick only on a on a full moon. But when you're pruning and you're looking at sap flows and different things - it's bringing in, we make our own biodynamic teas so it's these teas that get sprayed out in the vineyard that add different different elements to the vineyard and bring about sort of that again, that connection between what we have here on the Earth and what and the whole environment of what is out there.

Beth Novak Milliken:

So it sounds, it sounds it's more about being a cohesive whole. Now, here at Spottswoode, we don't have - we have 45 total acres. We do have life in the vineyard, by which, I mean, I've talked about the birds, but we do have sheep, we have 11 heritage sheep, we have four cashmere goats, we have four pigs that are not particularly useful.

Beth Novak Milliken:

We have chickens and we have a barn cat. But anyway, you want that life force in your vineyard. And so we do have that. For example, we don't have the space to raise our own cattle and then to bury the cow horn and to do - so, there's things in there that, you know, the things that you hear about which are fascinating but not realistic for absolutely everybody, depending on the size of your property.

Beth Novak Milliken:

So, you know, we we're fully certified and it's we've been farming biodynamic least since, oh, six or seven and it's something that we love doing. And it's just an additional sort of. Yeah, it causes you that more holistic connected of approach to farming.

Emma Swain:

You know, and I think one of the things that that biodynamics does and that we're seeing more in the Napa Green certification that we're seeing more in organics is is thinking about soil and the importance of soil and soil health. And it's something that we we think about as we sequester carbon and how we can improve that sequesterization.

Emma Swain:

But I do think that thinking about soil health kind of brings us to you know, being more of regenerative farming. And so much of what we think about today in sustainability is it's no longer just sustaining, right? We need to be doing more, we need to be doing more. And, and a lot of that I think comes with the biodiversity and thinking about about the soils, which I think all of these certifications really are looking at.

Beth Novak Milliken:

I agree with you and I like, I like what you just said very much that it's not just about sustainability because we don't want to sustain what we have. We need to improve what we have. I think I think we all know that climate change is here. It's very real. And and we all have an opportunity at this point in time.

Beth Novak Milliken:

We have a real opportunity to act and to do the right thing for our soils, for our land, for our air and for all of that. And I think that that's something that, you know, that feels good. And in terms of the soils, I mean, that's so crucial. We're actually going to get regenerative organics certified as well. It's it's redundant to what we have, but we feel like it's being talked about and as what people are doing, I mean, again, we already have it through our two through our two certification sbut we're just going to... Certification, as you and I were talking about, you know, is important because it's an outside third party endorsement that

Beth Novak Milliken:

you're actually doing the right thing and you're not just saying that you're doing the right thing. So I think that's why getting these certifications is important. So that says that you're you're actually committed to doing what you say that you're doing and you're following through and so that's important.

Emma Swain:

le one of our. Bottles since.:

Emma Swain:

We measured the biodiversity by parcel and with the help of the Nature Conservancy and they did a huge project on that and always fascinates me that when you, if you think about a map of the United States and you think of Black being the most biodiverse color, if you look at where we are in Northern California, that biodiversity is sort of black and you go across the country and it sort of becomes completely white until you sort of hit Tennessee and the Everglades.

Emma Swain:

And, you know, we have we have a duty to our environment to maintain that biodiversity. And people think about it as the different trees, the different plants. But again, it's also what's in the soil and it's the the different organisms that are so important.

Beth Novak Milliken:

Exactly. And I love you know, I love, again, what you just said that we do have - it's really a moral obligation, duty as is the same idea to to protect what we have. And, you know, that's why, again, to go back to to the Napa Green and sort of the pro forestation, which is about do no further harm, don't rip out any more vines.

Beth Novak Milliken:

You know what we all know I think is that the Earth is finite, Napa Valley is finite, Sonoma Valley is finite. There can only be so much, you know, you or I and I couldn't partner up and head over to Burgundy and say we want to plant a new vineyard. There just isn't land for that. Right. So, you know, here in Napa Valley, even though it's so anathema to to us sort of as Americans, to always think, oh, you know, we can just keep doing what we've been doing, it's not business as usual.

Beth Novak Milliken:

And we really do need to take a different viewpoint. And you're you shared that map with me via email a couple of months ago that showed the immense biodiversity we have right here in Napa County. And I mean, that goes all the way out toward various and up to the snow peak wilderness, you know, so we're talking east and north all the way up to Mount St. Helena.

Beth Novak Milliken:

And it's a remarkable pocket here that we have. And so we do have a real moral obligation to not tear out more of our forests, to plant vineyard, to not do those things anymore. We need to live within our means. And that also has to do with art, with our groundwater I mean, we are in a significant, significant drought.

Beth Novak Milliken:

It's it's not just sort of a subtle drought. It's it's it's deep. And we need to be really good stewards of these natural resources so that we can continue to grow, you know, the really the finest grapes and make the greatest wines here in Napa Valley that we've been able to make. And that's we have it we have that moral obligation to steward this.

Beth Novak Milliken:

Well.

Emma Swain:

Absolutely. And, you know, there's so much, it seems to me that we talk about is just, you know, it's the little things. And if we can just kind of focus all of us can do just a few more little things every day, every month, every year, then we're going to make progress. It's not going to just stay the same.

Emma Swain:

We're going to make progress. Because if you look at it and you measure it, you can see the change.

Beth Novak Milliken:

Exactly.

Emma Swain:

And suddenly the years pass and look at all you've done.

Beth Novak Milliken:

Yeah, that's true. If you ever take the time, I'm going to actually sit down with go, yeah, we have to. That is something that's important to do to kind of remember, remember those, those markers.

Emma Swain:

And I and I do love that in the measuring the different programs. Now, you are also an international wineries for climate action member. And are you are you on the board as well?

Beth Novak Milliken:

So that I'm on the board, yes.

Emma Swain:

So can you tell us a little bit about IWCA because it's a relatively new organization, but really forward thinking and I'm not sure that everyone is aware.

Beth Novak Milliken:

Yeah. International and you're and you just signed up to to become to become members. So your applicant numbers, thank you very much. I'm really excited that you're going to be a part of what we're doing. A man named Martin Reyes who does some work with us here, he went over I asked him to go to foreign protocol for us.

Beth Novak Milliken:

think December or November of:

Beth Novak Milliken:

So we started looking at it on, well, this is something that we, that we need to be a part of. It was founded by the Jackson family here in the US and the Torres family and in Spain. And they, they really I guess Miguel Torres was the one of - He was really inspired by Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth and really wanted to do something.

Beth Novak Milliken:

And so they came together and form this group. And so they were starting to look at adding others. And we looked at it and said, you know, this is a great opportunity for us to again manage, measure or just take a look at where we are. And again, it's I'm not going to sit here and pretend it's not work to measure

Beth Novak Milliken:

One's GHG is you have to gather a lot of information from different areas of your winery, right? You're measuring things from the production side, from the input side, from the inside your office side. You're measuring a lot of different things, whether it's transport or where you get your glass from the weight of your glass. I mean, what you're doing on site?

Beth Novak Milliken:

,:

Beth Novak Milliken:

And now with that we have to show a decrease every year for the next ten years. So when you sign up and say we're going to go gold to retain that gold certification, you have to meet these, these measures. Right. And also part of IWCA is you become automatically part of the UN's Race to Zero program. And so it's, it's just it is challenging to do because you're looking at, wow, where, where are we going to find this, you know, but you do what you do find it and, and it's, it's really it's quite remarkable what you can do, just like you were saying.

Beth Novak Milliken:

And it stops here and there and it's, it's pretty amazing what you can do to decrease your carbon footprint.

Emma Swain:

Yeah, it really is. And it is so, so important for all of us to be thinking about, you know, we have our great sustainable seafood tour at St Supery. And one of the things that we have found really interesting as part of that is talking with a lot of folks who are doing kelp farming. And the important says kelp farming to not just sustain communities that have been overfished, but as a resource kelp itself to replace plastics and the importance of decertifying our oceans.

Emma Swain:

And, you know, it's not just what we're doing in the vineyard to make it so important as what's in our glass but it's what we're also putting on our plate and where else that comes from. That's pretty important for us all to think about in the in the hospitality and restaurant business and wine business. Everything that we're putting in front of us and that we're doing has a pretty big impact.

Beth Novak Milliken:

Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

Emma Swain:

So and one of the other things that you do is you were so involved in giving back to the community and you give 20% of the purchase price of Mary's Blok Sauvignon Blanc to the Napa Valley Land Trust. And, you know, you're very involved in a number of charity organizations. You want to talk about why that's also an important component of what you and your family commit to.

Beth Novak Milliken:

So Land Trust of Napa County for us is saying now that we've always been really interested in what happened in 07 is that they were making - the land trust was, had the opportunity to make this purchase of the Wild Lake property now called the Dunn Wild Lake property because Randy Dunn gave heart and soul and and money to to the effort.

Beth Novak Milliken:

I mean remarkable but.

Emma Swain:

It wouldn't have been done without Randy Dunn.

Beth Novak Milliken:

It would not have been done without Randy Dunn. That is it true! And it borders, you know, almost borders his property up there. But what it did, you know, there's it was this property that the wildlife property connected. It's made the eastern mountain range of our Napa Valley about the top of the ridge line all the way from Angwin up at the top from the Friesian Lakes area all the way up to Calistoga.

Beth Novak Milliken:

It is it is forever. Why? That's right. It will be. There are some mountain bike trails and some hiking trails, but it will not be developed. It will you know, there is this whole area. So this opportunity came to do something. And my mom, you know, had been given, I think, by her dad, you know, like some shares of Chevron stock so long ago.

Beth Novak Milliken:

And we wanted to make this rather a significant donation. And so mom had anyway, they looked at that said, well, wow, with what you got, for what it's worth now, you could just trade that over. And so it ended up it was great to use shares of a company that has helped to despoil our Earth. Of course, it's also fueled us as we've driven around and flown around.

Beth Novak Milliken:

actually died in the fall of:

Beth Novak Milliken:

our first vintage of that in:

Beth Novak Milliken:

embers of our mailing list in:

Beth Novak Milliken:

So we've been doing it since then.

Emma Swain:

That's great. And I just have to go back to, to Randy Dunn because I was president of the Land Trust when we, when we purchased Wild Lake and it was quite controversial among the members and the board and the project committee of whether the Land Trust should take on a project of that size. And it wasn't until Randy Dunn said, I'm going to give you $5 million that everyone was on board yeah.

Emma Swain:

And it was well, not everyone was, but at least we had enough momentum to make that project work and really doubled the amount of land in the land trust with that purchase. And there's more land in Napa County, permanently protected than there is in Vineyard. So it's a wonderful organization to belong to. And if you visit the Napa Valley, I strongly suggest you join the Land Trust because there's a lot of great hikes, including going out to the wild lake property that you can sign up and do when you're when you're visiting us or living here.

Beth Novak Milliken:

Exactly. Though it's it's a great is a great organization. And that really is Randy's - he was passionate about it and he made it happen. I really admire that.

Emma Swain:

He and Lori both

Beth Novak Milliken:

Lori as well.

Beth Novak Milliken:

She has a lot more. That's correct.

Emma Swain:

She has it really did move things along. And, you know, one of the things that many people don't realize is here in Napa Valley, we have the strongest and strictest environmental laws and controls for planting a vineyard of anywhere else and anywhere in the world. And a lot of that has to do not just with what we're paying attention to with our green certifications and making sure we don't have runoff, that it's also about

Emma Swain:

It's about the the removing trees. It's about all of the things that you think about that have to happen to have a vineyard. And when you look at Napa, Valley, it's pretty much planted out. And we're only a little over 8% as of the

Beth Novak Milliken:

Exactly!

Beth Novak Milliken:

Yeah. And you make a really good point. I mean, you know, that that is the truth is that it is just about planted out. You know, the best soils have been planted, that the most viable areas have been have been planted. And and anything you know, and a lot of Napa County, you know, again, is out near lake burial site.

Beth Novak Milliken:

Right. And really far east, you know, bordering on Solano County and way up north. So, you know, there's kind of this heart of that where you and I are in the on the valley floor and then some, you know, mountainsides on on both sides, the Mayacamas and the Vaca. But but it really is more or less we've planted it out.

Beth Novak Milliken:

And there's only there just isn't that much more that that can or really should be done because at this point, again, to go back to sustain, is it sustaining or is it or is it improving to improve is is to is to is to leave what's there so that we can continue to sequester the carbon that our forests our natural forests hold.

Beth Novak Milliken:

And that, you know, if they're cut they don't sequester that anymore. So hopefully, you know, we're going to be it is very difficult to develop here as as it should be. And it's something that we all need to be really mindful of as we as we move forward.

Emma Swain:

Well, I do think that, you know, one of the issues to as you say, you know, we've we need to keep these forests because it's sequestering the carbon. But we've lost so much with the wildfires oh, yes. And we've had in Napa that we need to be planting. That's right. We need to be planting and maintaining the forests that we have so that we don't lose any more and we can restore what we have lost.

Emma Swain:

And I think that's an important component that we need to look at while we're being fire conscious and safety conscious. And we need some other ways to sequester more carbon.

Beth Novak Milliken:

Exactly. Exactly. Which is and which is where or, you know, agriculture and other things. Yeah, I'm reading I'm reading the Bill Gates book now. And I read I read different books on the environment. I mean, that's an interesting take on, you know, he measures and looks at things and here's what we have to do. And you know, it's a much more kind of pragmatic, just sort of straightforward approach.

Beth Novak Milliken:

And it's it's fascinating. You know, again, it's I think what one thing that we have to look at is that tackling this issue opens up a lot of opportunities for incredible innovation and things that we that we can do to to make to make things better. And so that's kind of exciting if we start deploying resources toward that and toward toward ways to mitigate it because, you know, it's it's yeah, it's it's hot and dry here now.

Beth Novak Milliken:

Hotter and drier here than it was. It's windier. I mean, it's quite windy here today. It's been windy all weekend and that dries out our soils as well. So, you know, it's just we're going to have this this danger of fires and we're going to have to learn how to get them put them out more quickly before they turn into the big conflagrations that they have because it's it's been it's been remarkable what's what's happened here.

Beth Novak Milliken:

And nature can come back if we if we give her a chance. So let's let's just hope we can do that.

Emma Swain:

Absolutely. So tell me, you know, you're really on the cutting edge of of what's going on in sustainability. And you talk to a lot of people, are there trends or other companies outside of the wine industry? That you really admire and are looking to for great examples?

Beth Novak Milliken:

Well, I think my you know, probably my greatest hero on the planet really is Yvonne Chouinard of Patagonia. I just for so long, he's been doing the right thing and he has the platform from from which to do it. And I just admire that, that he's stayed, you know, that he's willing to take risks to get his environmental message across, that they do it in such a nice way.

Beth Novak Milliken:

I mean, you know, the Patagonia catalog comes in. I just can't wait to read it, you know, and I mean, I guess I got everything online, too, but I, I love that. I read a really interesting article and then we now have the book and I need to read it by a man named Hubert Joly who ran Best Buy.

Beth Novak Milliken:

He's running Best Buy. And, you know, it's one of those things where a lot of people came in and bought Best Buy and kind of just wanted to liquidated and get rid of it and get rid of employees and just get what you could out of it. And you said, no, we're going to run. I want to bring this thing back.

Beth Novak Milliken:

We're going to run a sustainable company. We're going to engage our employees. So kind of like this whole sense of how do you operate a business ethically that takes care of this looking at not just, you know, shareholder value because that's only 11 measure. And it hasn't. If you look at what's happened to our planet since we've taken that sort of sort of Milton Friedman approach to how we operate our businesses, our planet has suffered, right.

Beth Novak Milliken:

Because we need to take care not not just of shareholders. We take care of our employees. We need to take care of our community. We need to take care of our natural environments. We need to care about all of those things. It's not just about profit. And what we can put in the pockets of shareholders who who may or may not be engaged actually in the business.

Beth Novak Milliken:

So I'm hopeful that so those would be sort of when I look at things, I mean, Yvon Chouinard It's about that, too. We wrote a book a long time ago, Let My People Go Surfing, which is a really well-written book about, you know, giving employees taking, taking good care of them and letting them go out also and take care of themselves, their families, the environment.

Beth Novak Milliken:

So just looking at that sense of community that we need to bring back to how we operate our businesses and it's not operating ethically and well is goes right along with with profitability and economic success. I mean, you and I both know that we can't do any of these things that we're doing unless we're running a profitable business.

Beth Novak Milliken:

We have to have businesses that are profitable, be able to pursue these types of initiatives. So, again, I just I my hope is that, you know, we're going to move toward a new sort of paradigm, a new way of looking at how we operate our businesses.

Emma Swain:

You know, I think that's a really good point. And, you know, as a as a CPA and in my first life, I am and still, you know, thinking that way, I've always felt how important it is in the wine business to be privately held or family held organization because the wine business is not a business that that really works as a publicly traded company because we have to invest so much in long term assets like vineyards, wineries, and from start to finish, it's, you know, at least five to seven years before you get your first bottle of wine.

Emma Swain:

And that is not return on assets. That's important as a publicly traded company, but it is, you know, a great way to do business and have an investment for generations to come. And I think that that's why we have so many family owned and closely held businesses in the wine business and Napa Valley. It's, what? 95% are family owned businesses.

Beth Novak Milliken:

Right? Exactly. Yeah. I mean, I think I think, you know, you make a very good point, because everything about in the wine business is long term thinking. And there are a lot of investments that we all make that, you know, you're not going to get a return on any time soon. You have to be looking down down the road.

Beth Novak Milliken:

And and also the one thing there are the vagaries of Mother Nature, climate change or not, where some year some years you have a higher crop and therefore higher production. And other years you have you have a year where where Mother Nature gives you less fruit and you have lower production. So your revenues are also shifting because even if you can sell more, if you don't have more to sell, you know, you can't just go in and make them make more wine if you don't have the grapes with which to make it.

Beth Novak Milliken:

So the wine industry is is unique in that way. And of course, we live you know, we live with the seasons and very, very aware of the seasonality of it. You know, we know when winter and pruning and spring and bud break and you know, we're just really in tune with all that, which is another one of the really nice aspects of what we do.

Emma Swain:

Yeah, it is. Well, is there anything I should have asked you that you want to share with our guests today?

Beth Novak Milliken:

You know, I think I think the only thing that I that I would say is I thank you for having this conversation with me. And I am so passionate about it because. Well, because I care. I mean, I'm going to turn out a list, of course. But I mean, I have done for for a long, long time. But also, you know, the reality is that we in the wine industry, I mean, we are an agriculturally based industry, so we are uniquely impacted by climate change.

Beth Novak Milliken:

And so we have a real sort of motivation to address it. And I guess from a personal standpoint, if you will, or from a business sustainability standpoint. And you know, here at Spottswoode, I'm second generation, as you mentioned, my ambition is to carry this forward to the third generation and beyond, to build something that is strong enough to carry forward and do that.

Beth Novak Milliken:

So I'm doing this with with a very long term view in mind. And I think being agriculturally based causes us to be that much more sensitive to these issues. And not only can we be the change because you and I are both doing it and as as are some of our other some of our peers, but we also can inspire change because we're selling our wines to a group of people who have the ability to say either come to Napa Valley or care about our wines, to enjoy great food, to enjoy great wine.

Beth Novak Milliken:

And that group of people, all of us coming together, we can make a difference. So I think, you know, looking at that opportunity of what we have based upon where we're coming from, you know, allowing our customers to understand we're passionate about this because we want to be able to keep delivering to you the great wines and keep growing these groups and make these lines.

Beth Novak Milliken:

And so join us in our in our in our efforts, you know, to to improve what we're all doing. I think that's really exciting. And so this opportunity is I very much appreciate it.

Emma Swain:

Well, thanks for joining me, Beth. It was really great to catch up about the environment today, and I look forward to seeing you in person again soon.

Beth Novak Milliken:

Thank you for including me, Emma. And thank you for all that you are doing at St. Supery. We are doing an exceptional job there and I really appreciate that.

Emma Swain:

That's kind. Thank you.

Beth Novak Milliken:

Be well.

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