Wine Pairing: Meridian and International Wineries for Climate Action5 July 2022
Uncertain Futures: Climate Change and Wine
I admit that, not long ago, I wasn’t thinking about climate change when picking up a bottle of wine or raising a glass with friends. But last year, I began working with International Wineries for Climate Action (IWCA) as part of its secretariat team housed at Meridian—and learned just how vulnerable the wine sector is to climate change.
For multi-generational, locally rooted wineries, climate change is an existential, imminent threat. Unpredictable weather patterns are affecting crop abundance and grape chemistry and quality. Increasingly, frequent extreme events, from droughts to flooding to wildfires, place entire harvests—and businesses—at grave risk.
A Unique, Industry-Led Movement
International Wineries for Climate Action (IWCA) is galvanizing wineries across the world to tackle climate change—not just to respond but also to play an active role in climate change mitigation. IWCA, founded in 2019 and registered as a 501(c)6 nonprofit, has 35 applicant and member wineries (and counting!) spanning nine countries and five continents. IWCA’s member wineries have committed to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and regularly, publicly reporting on their progress.
IWCA’s vision is to decarbonize the wine industry. In pursuit of that goal, the organization focuses on developing new tools and methodologies to measure greenhouse gas emissions, raising awareness about climate change in the wine sector, and sharing strategies to reduce emissions.
Foundation for Sustained Action
By 2021, two years after its founding, IWCA was building momentum: it had gained global visibility, grown its roster of member wineries, formed a Board of Directors, and registered as a nonprofit. But its Board of Directors knew that IWCA needed a stronger institutional foundation to expand. They selected Meridian to serve as IWCA’s fiscal sponsor and secretariat.
As fiscal sponsor, Meridian’s finance team takes care of IWCA’s behind-the-scenes operations, including invoicing applicant and member wineries, conducting financial management and reporting, contracting with vendors, and maintaining the annual filing for IWCA’s nonprofit status.
As secretariat, we provide a host of strategy, facilitation, communication, and project management services. We facilitate Board, member, and working group meetings to build and maintain an active, engaged membership. We provide direct strategic support to the Board, drawing upon our expertise designing, facilitating, and implementing complex collaborative efforts. We develop communications materials and help track and onboard new member wineries—ensuring IWCA’s leadership and members have the support they need to grow a larger global movement.
Meridian’s role as IWCA’s fiscal sponsor and secretariat often keeps our team in the weeds—deep in outreach lists, accounts receivable, and greenhouse gas emissions accounting protocols. But altogether, these details have helped IWCA build a stronger foundation for continued growth and impact.
Energized by a committed Board of Directors and dedicated member wineries, IWCA’s membership has grown more than three-fold in the past 12 months. The organization is on the leading edge of setting new standards for climate mitigation in the wine sector and for global industries more broadly. It is inspiring action by wineries big and small around the world and influencing conversations on sustainable wine. To learn more about IWCA, including a membership list to consult when purchasing your next bottle of wine, visit www.iwcawine.org.
A subset of IWCA’s member and applicant wineries gathered for the first time in-person earlier this year at the wine industry conference ProWein. So far, IWCA’s regular quarterly member meetings—facilitated by Meridian—have taken place virtually, bringing together the dozens of wineries involved in IWCA (across about as many time zones!) to share knowledge, provide input on strategic priorities, and discuss organizational updates.