What’s the story behind Clif Family Napa Valley?
Clif Family’s husband and wife co-owners Gary Erickson and Kit Crawford have always felt that wine and food should be enjoyed together. So when they began making wine in 2004, it was a natural next step to create food that could be enjoyed with their wines. Clif Family Napa Valley began with the mission to create high quality, low impact food products inspired by their wine country home and made with sustainable ingredients and packaging.
Some of our products including our fruit preserves and olive oil come directly from produce grown on our 10-acre organically certified farm and some are made with partners who specialize in the products we offer. One example of this is our Solar Grown™ honey. The inspiration for this product began when Clif Bar & Company installed a 5-acre pollinator friendly solar farm on the site of their bakery in Twin Falls, Idaho. The intent of the solar array was to provide the bakery with 30% of its annual electricity. When they added pollinator friendly habitat, we were introduced to the idea of creating and selling a product that could multiply the benefits of clean energy. With that goal in mind, the Clif Family Solar Grown Honey line was launched. The hives where we source our honey are located on pollinator friendly solar farms, creating a win-win for our planet and our palate.
Sustainability is at the center of everything you do across all aspects of your business. How has that impacted the way the brand has developed and continues to operate?
Clif Family operates a 5 Aspirations business model: Sustaining our Brands, Business, People, Planet and Community. Being a successful company means that we keep all five of these aspirations in balance. Our motto for Sustaining our Planet is to Think Like a Tree. Trees run on renewable energy, recycle all waste, and sustain and improve the places they grow. We are working to think like a tree through organic food and farming, sustainable production, zero waste practices and conserving and restoring our natural resources. Our 90 acres of vineyards and 10 acres of vegetable gardens and fruit orchards are CCOF certified organic and Napa Green Certified. We are currently working toward B Corp certification which we hope to achieve in 2023. We are making significant sustainable packaging improvements, sourcing lighter weight glass, removing the foil capsules from our wine bottles and sourcing compostable materials for our food packaging. Every business and brand decision that we make has to be balanced by the impact on our planet, community and people. Our team spends a lot of time talking about how we balance our 5 Aspirations in our business decisions and then putting those plans into action.
All of your honey is Solar Grown™. Tell us more about the importance of pollinator-friendly solar farms.
There are many benefits created by sourcing our honey from pollinator-friendly solar farms. Solar Grown promotes clean energy development and biodiversity while supporting small farmers with economic opportunities.
The population of our pollinators is in decline and a leading cause of this is due to habitat loss. This lack of sufficient pollinators has already had a negative impact on crop yields in the United States . Simultaneously, there has been a rapid increase in demand for solar energy. Scientists predict farmers and other landowners will lease more than 2 million acres of land for solar projects by 2030. Research shows that planting pollinator-friendly ground cover on these sites rather than on turf or concrete, can result in a three-fold increase in pollinator abundance . Solar farms planted with pollinator-friendly habitat can also reduce costs and increase operating efficiencies because of reduced mowing and creation of a cooler micro-climate under the panels.
The benefits of solar grown are further amplified when you create an economic opportunity for small farmers and beekeepers. Our Solar Grown honey is sourced from these pollinator friendly solar farms, multiplying the benefits of clean energy.
Your facilities run on 100% renewable energy. How did you get to this point? What are the challenges and benefits?
In 2020, we made a commitment through SME Climate Hub (https://smeclimatehub.org/) to halve our carbon emissions by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2050, aligned with the United Nations Race to Zero campaign. The SME Climate Hub is a global initiative empowering small to medium sized companies to take climate action. Each year, we set goals for reducing our carbon emissions. Currently, we run all of our facilities on 100% renewable energy through our enrollment in MCE Deep Green, a community choice aggregate. This past spring, we brought sheep to our vineyard and farm to reduce our tractor usage. Fuel for tractors has been one of our primary sources of carbon emissions in farming our vineyards. The sheep graze in the vineyards, weeding and maintaining soil health and reducing the need for tractors to do the same work. We also installed solar panels on our new offices and tasting room.
We feel it is our responsibility as a small business to do all we can to meet our carbon emissions targets. In 2023, we will turn our attention to reducing our Scope 3 Emissions, focusing on working with our production partners to transition to renewable energy sources when possible. The challenge is working with small businesses to help them find the most feasible and cost-effective ways to reduce their carbon emissions.
What’s next on the horizon for Clif Family, or what do you hope to do next
We hope to introduce more products that offer innovative solutions to sustaining our planet. We are always innovating in both food and wine and looking at our business processes to determine where we can make improvements. We are hoping to achieve B Corp certification this year and using that as a baseline for setting goals for continuous improvement each year.
Want to explore more from Clif Family Napa Valley? Check out their collection of farm-to-table nut mixes and Solar Grown™ honey here.