The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

Habit Wine

Habit Wine


November 28, 2010

Established in 2007, Habit Wine comes from the Happy Canyon region of the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara, California – an area in the Santa Barbara wine country known for its warmer climates and riper, richer fruit. Primarily available from a select list of restaurants and retailers in Los Angeles and New York and produced under the tutelage of California winemaker Doug Margerum, Habit Wine is a truly artisanal operation. We talked to the wine’s creator, Jeff Fischer, about the importance of following your dream, embracing your passion, and keeping your carbon footprint small.

How did you come to form Habit Wine?

Habit wine came to be out of my love and passion for wine and the environment. I've always been fascinated with the winemaking process and viticulture. I formed Habit out of a need to be involved in the art of winemaking. It’s something I have always had the desire to do ever since I was young. I was always wondering about what wine was about and how it came to be from the vineyard to the bottle. To this day, opening a bottle of wine is an exciting mystery, and there is a story someone is telling inside each and every bottle. And I’m interested in sharing my story and passion through this as well.

How have you been able to merge commerce with sustainable business practices?

As such a small winemaker I have a tiny carbon footprint on the production side of things. Almost everything is done by hand, and very little equipment is used. I have been trying to find ways to be consistent with my environmental ideals such as using glass that weighs less than others, buying grapes from organic vineyards when possible, and changing boxes to non bleached paper. The winemaking and grape growing sides of the business are very sustainable. We care deeply about the land and the vines, so proper care and attention to soil is essential to being able to produce a great wine. I am also looking into some other packaging options for the future such as aluminum kegs which would reduce glass, paper and cork in the process. Also, because I don’t own my own facility and share space, the footprint is even smaller.

How is your business unique from others that make “boutique” wines?

I’m not sure how to compare myself to other boutique winemakers as there are many. I can only say I’m doing exactly what I believe and making wine I want to drink. This is not a second boutique label as some other larger wineries are coming out with, but really a small production wine by a guy with a little foot in the door. It really feels surreal that I am even producing wine at this level. After many years of being a "garagiste" not much has changed, and production is still tiny, but now the public can hopefully enjoy what I do.

What are the challenges of operating a wine business on such a small scale? What are the benefits?

Many challenges exist for a small wine business. Costs are high when production is low, and being such a small volume producer at this level, there is not really any return on the investment financially. This is really a labor of love at this stage, and the challenge is always being able to buy more fruit each year to make more wine. Also being small, it’s harder to get your product out to certain areas of the market as I do everything myself. 

The benefits are many as well. Being small, I am involved in all aspects of the business, so I am learning so many different things. I have to wear many hats, and it’s exciting. The game plan in the future is to stay small. I would love to expand one day, but organically. The plan is to increase production a little bit each year. What's most important to me is making wine I can be proud of.

What can retailers learn from your success?

After years of persevering, I have something I am really proud of. It’s a great feeling to do what you love, and I’m thrilled to be able to do so. For me, that is what is most important in life, and success doesn’t have to be measured by financial gain. Creating something I am proud of is really fulfilling, as is creating a product that doesn’t put a lot of stress on the environment.

Visit to learn more about Fischer’s story.

In upcoming issues, we will continue to feature interviews with companies that are taking innovative steps toward the creation of sustainable products and services. If you are interested in telling us more about what your company is doing please contact Allison Bloom at