Food Leaders Perspectives
Paul Dolan, former President Fetzer Vineyards
Paul Dolan is a Roots of Change council member and past president of Fetzer Vineyards in California's Mendocino County. He is a fourth-generation winemaker, descended on his mother's side from winemakers at the original Italian-Swiss Colony, and on his father's side from the winemaking Concannon family. His children, now in business with him, add a fifth generation to this winegrowing family.
In his 27 years at Fetzer, Mr. Dolan helped oversee its transition from a small family-owned winery to an employee-based organization selling wine across the globe. Through his persistent efforts, Mr. Dolan's vision for Fetzer was realized: "... to be recognized as the environmentally and socially conscious winery, committed to making the highest quality, best valued wines in the world."
Today, Mr. Dolan is a partner in Parducci Wine Cellars and several other vineyard and winery ventures. He also serves on the boards of the Wine Institute and Business for Social Responsibility, and is a founder of Wine Vision. Mr. Dolan participated on President Clinton's Council on Sustainable Business, and he chaired the California Sustainable Alliance Board. He continues to advocate for sustainability and organic farming based on the simple premise that this natural view of our relationship with the world is not only the right view, but also delivers better products and healthier lives.
Do you see the Vivid Picture project as important to California's future?
I see it as important to the future of the planet. California can be a leader in this conversation about sustainability and food. California has a history of guiding progressive change, and the state has the leadership capabilities to really make a difference.
Do you see the project as important to California's agricultural future?
Much of California's current picture of agricultural future is caught up in globalization. We must provide an alternative vision.
Yet the forces of globalization have substance, so it is important for California to be very competitive within that, especially from a cost standpoint. California must also to be more creative in order to be competitive in extracting value from our place in the global economy. California simultaneously needs to differentiate itself and be more competitive in the global agricultural market.
One way to create this differentiation is to add value to California food by making it healthier - healthier for the eater and healthier for the environment.
Do you think that it is important that the project is happening now?
I think that environmental problems around the planet are really escalating and we are largely blind to it. The Vivid Picture project meets this with critical timing.
I also think that Governor Schwarzenegger's leadership can really add some teeth to the project. He has a powerful emotional following that has the potential to galvanize the food community as well as serve as an effective marketing hook.
Lastly, development in California is happening extremely quickly, almost unchecked. I hate to see good farmland lost forever to sprawl. Once it is lost it is lost forever, so the timing for acting on this is now.
What are your biggest hopes for the project?
My greatest hope is that we create a vision that is powerful enough to make people want to participate, a vision that encourages Californian's creative enthusiasm and innovation, that inspires Californians to innovate real change. I also hope that other states and countries will see the value of incorporating agriculture into their communities.
It is also my hope that the project will help the entire state place a new importance on the value of healthy food. We are working on a regional project in Northern California, Pure Mendocino. It is instigating a conversation about organics and the health value of choosing organics - for the consumer and the environment. The Vivid Picture can create a similar conversation about a statewide vision of the value of food as it contributes to improving our overall quality of life.
What do you think that the role of the ROC Council is in the Vivid Picture project?
I see my role in The ROC council and in the Vivid Picture project as a participant in a creative group that is working to uncover what is possible in the future - to help us all step out of the limits of where we are today and envision a new future.
Who do you see as the change makers? Who will implement the Vivid Picture?
I think that those who are willing to try to do things differently will bring about the majority of the change - especially business leaders that are willing to take the necessary risks and walk the walk.
How does the project relate to your overall life's work?
The Vivid Picture really lines up with my life's work. I am committed to running my business as a sustainable business that helps the community. I am also committed to helping the larger business world move towards sustainability. I have a particular vision in my life - which is that business leaders can lead the shift forwards sustainability for the planet. I think that the Vivid Picture project is going to help facilitate that change.
Reported by Ali Edwards, Straus Communications