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Californian wine growers sign up to sustainable practices

15 January, 2010

The California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance has announced a statewide certification programme that provides third-party verification of a winery or vineyard’s sustainable winegrowing practices.

The California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA) has announced the introduction of a statewide certification programme that provides third-party verification of a winery or vineyard’s adherence to a "process of continuous improvement" in the adoption and implementation of sustainable winegrowing practices.

Open to all California wineries and vineyards as a voluntary option, CSWA’s programme, Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing, requires applicants to meet 58 prerequisite criteria to be eligible for the programme, assess winery and/or vineyard operations, create and implement an annual action plan and show improvement over time.

The goals of the new certification programme are to enhance transparency, encourage statewide participation and advance the entire California wine industry toward best practices in environmental stewardship, conservation of natural resources and socially equitable business practices.  Three years in the making, the certification programme is the first statewide program available to both wineries and vineyards.

In addition, CSWA released its 2009 Wine Community Sustainability Report measuring the California wine industry’s adoption over five years of 227 best management practices from the Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Practices Self-Assessment Workbook.

“Third-party certification helps California’s wine community speed efforts to create a healthier environment, stronger communities and vibrant businesses,” said Robert P. (Bobby) Koch, Wine Institute President and CEO.  “The program reflects the California wine community’s commitment to continually produce the finest quality wine and grapes with practices that are environmentally and socially responsible.”

“The scale on which California’s wine community is adopting and expanding sustainable practices is truly impressive, as the state is the fourth leading wine producer in the world,” said California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) board chairman Kim Ledbetter Bronson of Vino Farms in Lodi. “CSWA’s mission is to bring recognition to the California wine industry as a change leader in the global marketplace and serve as a model for other industries.”

To date, 1,566 vineyard and winery organisations representing 68.1% of California’s 526,000 wine acres and 62.5% of the state’s 240 million case shipments have evaluated their vineyards and wineries with CSWA’s Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Practices Self-Assessment Workbook. Wine Institute and CAWG established the Sustainable Winegrowing Programme in 2002 and incorporated CSWA a year later as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to continue implementing the program.