Miyoko Schinner, the founder and CEO of vegan cheese brand Miyoko’s Creamery, is launching a campaign to make Northern California’s wine country more sustainable and compassionate by incorporating a vegan approach to the food and wine experience. Created due to rising concerns over the climate crisis, sustainability, health, and animal welfare, Wine Country 2.0 brings together local wineries, restaurateurs, hoteliers, hospitality-focused businesses, organizations, and local artisan food producers that are passionate about creating a more sustainable and compassionate wine country experience. Together, they will create a Wine Country 2.0 experience that will attract visitors who might not have opted for wine country as a destination previously, as well as enhance the current experience for the present demographic.
The number of vegans in the United States has grown by 600 percent over the last three years, and Millennials are now driving the movement, with one-quarter of 25 to 34 year olds classifying themselves as vegan or vegetarian. “That means we are leaving a lot of people out of the wine country experience and losing opportunities to attract and connect with these folks,” Schinner said.
A new wine country experience with vegan food pairings
Already, dozens of charter members have joined the Wine Country 2.0 campaign, including wineries such as Blue Farm, Cline Cellars, and Clif Family Winery; businesses such as El Dorado Hotel & Kitchen, La Belle Vie Tours, Bohemian Highway, Renegade Foods, Green String Farm; and organizations such as Out in the Vineyard, Charlie’s Acres, Miyoko’s own farm sanctuary Rancho Compasión, and Jameson Humane.
“Wine Country 2.0 is an entirely new way to enjoy the world’s greatest wine region and leading tourist destination. We will expose visitors and locals alike to phenomenal experiences which demonstrate that caring for the planet and animals while delivering the world’s finest food and wine pairings are not mutually exclusive,” Schinner said. “This convivial, climate-forward collaboration celebrates the diverse, local tastemakers and change makers who are leading the way in creating a more sustainable and compassionate hospitality experience that will create a blueprint for the culinary industry across the country.”
Awards and festivals to come
The campaign will also include an awards ceremony in November celebrating the businesses and organizations that have created the most sustainable and inclusive programs. Wine Country 2.0 also hopes to host an elevated vegan food and wine festival in Spring 2022.
“Ultimately, the goal is to shift the paradigm of wine country here and beyond, and to create a model for the hospitality industry worldwide that will serve as a roadmap for sustainability by incorporating a vegan approach to food and wine,” Schinner said. “As leaders in the industry, we want to use that sphere of influence to become a trusted resource for locals, visitors, chefs, and inspire change-maker chefs and winemakers across the world to establish the new and improved wine country experience, for the businesses, the people, and the animals.”
Working to make change
Schinner has inspired change throughout her decades-long career as a vegan chef, cookbook author, and serial entrepreneur. In 2014, Schinner launched vegan company Miyoko’s Creamery, which has since expanded production to a nearly 30,000-square-foot facility in Petaluma, CA with distribution in nearly 30,000 stores across North America and Australia.
In addition to working to make wine country more inclusive, the vegan cheese mogul is also fighting to change the narrative around dairy products to encompass cheese and butter made from “plant milk.” Last year, a US district court sided with Miyoko’s Creamery, preventing the State of California from enforcing its demands that the vegan brand cease using the terms “butter,” “lactose-free,” and “cruelty-free” on its products—setting a precedent for other companies looking for free speech protections on terms dairy lobbyists have fought to reserve for animal secretions.