Hostname: page-component-5d59c44645-mhl4m Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-03-02T01:40:28.185Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Does Organic Wine Taste Better? An Analysis of Experts' Ratings*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 August 2016

Magali A. Delmas
University of California, Los Angeles Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and Anderson School of Management, La Kretz Hall, Suite 300, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1496; e-mail:
Olivier Gergaud
KEDGE Business School (Bordeaux campus), 680 Cours de la Libération, 33405 Talence Cedex, France; e-mail:
Jinghui Lim
University of California, Los Angeles Anderson School of Management, La Kretz Hall, Suite 300, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1496; e-mail:


Ecolabels are part of a new wave of environmental policy that emphasizes information disclosure as a tool to induce environmentally friendly behavior by both firms and consumers. Little consensus exists as to whether ecocertified products are actually better than their conventional counterparts. This study seeks to understand the link between ecocertification and product quality. We use data from three leading wine-rating publications (the Wine Advocate, Wine Enthusiast, and Wine Spectator) to assess quality for 74,148 wines produced in California between 1998 and 2009. Our results indicate that ecocertification is associated with a statistically significant increase in wine quality rating. Being ecocertified increases the scaled score of the wine by 4.1 points on average. (JEL Classifications: L15, L66, Q13, Q21, Q56)

Copyright © American Association of Wine Economists 2016 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



This research was conducted with the following undergraduate students at University of California, Los Angeles: Hayley Moller, Geoff Wright, Danny Suits, Jon Gim, John Lee, and David Wolk. We thank them for their essential input. We also thank an anonymous referee for valuable feedback.


Andreoni, J. (1990). Impure altruism and donations to public goods: A theory of warm-glow giving. Economic Journal, 100(401), 464477.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ashenfelter, O. (2008). Predicting the quality and prices of Bordeaux wine. Economic Journal, 118(529), F174F184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ashenfelter, O., Ashmore, D., and Lalonde, R. (1995). Bordeaux wine vintage quality and the weather. Chance, 8(4), 714.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ashenfelter, O., and Storchmann, K. (2010). Using hedonic models of solar radiation and weather to assess the economic effect of climate change: The case of Mosel Valley vineyards. Review of Economics and Statistics, 92(2), 333349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Blamey, R.K., Bennett, J.W., Louviere, J.J., Morrison, M.D., and Rolfe, J. (2000). A test of policy labels in environmental choice modelling studies. Ecological Economics, 32(2), 269286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brouhle, K., and Khanna, M. (2012). Determinants of participation versus consumption in the Nordic Swan eco-labeled market. Ecological Economics, 73, 142151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cardebat, J.-M., Figuet, J.-M., and Paroissien, E. (2014). Expert opinion and Bordeaux wine prices: An attempt to correct biases in subjective judgments. Journal of Wine Economics 9(3), 282303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cardebat, J.-M., and Paroissien, E. (2015). Standardizing expert wine scores: An empirical application for Bordeaux en primeur . Journal of Wine Economics, 10(3), 329348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Clarke, C.F., Kotchen, M.J., and Moore, M.R. (2003). Internal and external influences on pro-environmental behavior: Participation in a green electricity program. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 23(3), 237246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cornes, R., and Sandler, T. (1996). The Theory of Externalities, Public Goods, and Club Goods, 2nd ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Corsi, A., and Strøm, S. (2013). The price premium for organic wines: Estimating a hedonic farm-gate price equation. Journal of Wine Economics, 8(1), 2948.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Crespi, J.M., and Marette, S. (2005). Eco-labelling economics: Is public involvement necessary? In Krarup, S., and Russell, C.S. (Eds.), Environment, Information and Consumer Behaviour. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar, 93110.Google Scholar
Delmas, M. (2001). Stakeholders and competitive advantage: The case of ISO 14001. Production and Operations Management, 10(3), 343358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Delmas, M.A., Etzion, D., and Nairn-Birch, N. (2013). Triangulating environmental performance: What do corporate social responsibility ratings really capture? Academy of Management Perspectives, 27(3), 255267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Delmas, M.A., and Gergaud, O. (2014). Sustainable certification for future generations: The case of family business. Family Business Review, 27(3), 228243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Delmas, M.A., and Grant, L.E. (2014). Eco-labeling strategies and price-premium: The wine industry puzzle. Business and Society, 53(1), 644.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Delmas, M.A., and Lessem, N. (2015). Eco-premium or eco-penalty? Eco-labels and quality in the organic wine market. Business and Society, doi:10.1177/0007650315576119.Google Scholar
Delmas, M.A., Nairn-Birch, N., and Balzarova, M. (2013). Choosing the right eco-label for your product. MIT Sloan Management Review, 54(4), 1012.Google Scholar
Ferraro, P.J., Uchida, T., and Conrad, J.M. (2005). Price premiums for eco-friendly commodities: Are “green” markets the best way to protect endangered ecosystems? Environmental and Resource Economics, 32(3), 419438.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Galarraga Gallastegui, I. (2002). The use of eco-labels: A review of the literature. European Environment, 12(6), 316331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Garaguso, I., and Nardini, M. (2015). Polyphenols content, phenolics profile and antioxidant activity of organic red wines produced without sulfur dioxide/sulfites addition in comparison to conventional red wines. Food Chemistry, 179, 336342.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Huang, C.L. (1991). Organic foods attract consumers for the wrong reasons. Choices, 6(3), 1821.Google Scholar
Huang, C.L., and Lin, B.-H. (2007). A hedonic analysis of fresh tomato prices among regional markets. Review of Agricultural Economics, 29(4), 783800.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jackson, D.I., and Lombard, P.B. (1993). Environmental and management practices affecting grape composition and wine quality – a review. American Journal of Enology and Viticulture, 44(4), 409430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jolly, D.A., and Norris, K. (1991). Marketing prospects for organics and pesticide-free produce. American Journal of Alternative Agriculture, 6(4), 174179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kahn, M.E., and Vaughn, R.K. (2009). Green market geography: The spatial clustering of hybrid vehicles and LEED registered buildings. B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, 9(2), article 2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kotchen, M.J. (2005). Impure public goods and the comparative statics of environmentally friendly consumption. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 49(2), 281300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kotchen, M.J. (2006). Green markets and private provision of public goods. Journal of Political Economy, 114(4), 816834.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kotchen, M.J., and Moore, M.R. (2007). Private provision of environmental public goods: Household participation in green-electricity programs. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 53(1), 116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lecocq, S., and Visser, M. (2006). What determines wine prices: Objective vs. sensory characteristics. Journal of Wine Economics, 1(1), 4256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Leire, C., and Thidell, A. (2005). Product-related environmental information to guide consumer purchases – a review and analysis of research on perceptions, understanding and use among Nordic consumers. Journal of Cleaner Production, 13(10–11), 10611070.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Loose, S.M., and Remaud, H. (2013). Impact of corporate social responsibility claims on consumer food choice: A cross-cultural comparison. British Food Journal, 115(1), 142166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Loureiro, M.L. (2003). Rethinking new wines: Implications of local and environmentally friendly labels. Food Policy, 28(5–6), 547560.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Loureiro, M.L., and Lotade, J. (2005). Do fair trade and eco-labels in coffee wake up the consumer conscience? Ecological Economics, 53(1), 129138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Loureiro, M.L., McCluskey, J.J., and Mittelhammer, R.C. (2001). Assessing consumer preferences for organic, eco-labeled, and regular apples. Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, 26(2), 404416 Google Scholar
Masset, P., Weisskopf, J.-P., and Cossutta, M. (2015). Wine tasters, ratings, and en primeur prices. Journal of Wine Economics, 10(1), 75107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Miles, S., and Frewer, L.J. (2001). Investigating specific concerns about different food hazards. Food Quality and Preference, 12(1), 4761.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Muschler, R.G. 2001. Shade improves coffee quality in a sub-optimal coffee-zone of Costa Rica. Agroforestry Systems, 51(2), 131139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Nimon, W., and Beghin, J. (1999). Are eco-labels valuable? Evidence from the apparel industry. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 81(4), 801811.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Oczkowski, E., and Doucouliagos, H. (2015). Wine prices and quality ratings: A meta-regression analysis. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 97(1), 103121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Peattie, K., and Crane, A. (2005). Green marketing: Legend, myth, farce or prophesy? Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, 8(4), 357370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Prakash, A., and Potoski, M. (2006). The Voluntary Environmentalists: Green Clubs, ISO 14001, and Voluntary Environmental Regulations. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ramirez, C. (2008). Wine quality, wine prices, and the weather: Is Napa “different”? Journal of Wine Economics, 3(2), 114131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rauber, C. (2006). Winemakers go organic in bottle but not on label. San Francisco Business Times, October 22.Google Scholar
Reeve, J.R., Carpenter-Boggs, L., Reganold, J.P., York, A.L., McGourty, G., and McCloskey, L.P. (2005). Soil and winegrape quality in biodynamically and organically managed vineyards. American Journal of Enology and Viticulture, 56(4), 367376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Roe, B., and Teisl, M.F. (2007). Genetically modified food labelling: The impacts of message and messenger on consumer perceptions of labels and products. Food Policy, 32(1), 4966.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Stuen, E.T., Miller, J.R., and Stone, R.W. (2015). An analysis of wine critic consensus: A study of Washington and California wines. Journal of Wine Economics, 10(1), 4761.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Teisl, M.F., Roe, B., and Hicks, R.L. (2002). Can eco-labels tune a market? Evidence from dolphin-safe labeling. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 43(3), 339359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Teisl, M.F., Roe, B., and Levy, A.S. (1999). Ecocertification: Why it may not be a “Field of Dreams.” American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 81(5), 10661071.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Veldstra, M.D., Alexander, C.E., and Marshall, M.I. (2014). To certify or not to certify? Separating the organic production and certification decisions. Food Policy, 49, 429436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Von Paumgartten, P. (2003). The business case for high-performance green buildings: Sustainability and its financial impact. Journal of Facilities Management, 2(1), 2634.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Waterhouse, A.L. (2016). University of California, Davis, Waterhouse Lab: Sulfites. Accessed February 2016 at Scholar
Weber, E.A., Klonsky, K.M., and De Moura, R.L. (2005). Sample Costs to Produce Organic Wine Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon. Davis: University of California Cooperative Extension.Google Scholar
Yridoe, E.K., Bonti-Ankomah, S., and Martin, R.C. (2005). Comparison of consumer perceptions and preference toward organic versus conventionally produced foods: A review and update of the literature. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, 20(4), 193205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Zarraonaindia, I., Owens, S.M., Weisenhorn, P., West, K., Hampton-Marcell, J., Lax, S., Bokulich, N.A., et al. (2015). The soil microbiome influences grapevine-associated microbiota. mBio, 6(2), e02527-14. doi:10.1128/mBio.02527-14.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed