THREE Decades and Growing:A RETROSPECTIVE OF SUSTAINABILITY IN THE CALIFORNIA WINE COMMUNITY

THE CALIFORNIA WINE COMMUNITY

Global Leaders in Sustainability

Sustainability is at the heart of how winegrapes are grown and wine is made in California. The state’s wines come from a long tradition of family-owned businesses whose presence in the state dates back to the late 1700s. The uniqueness and quality of these wines have been perfected not only by the knowledge, dedication and innovation by the wine community, but also by the ideal climate, soil and geography. Vintners and growers are choosing to implement sustainable practices that preserve natural resources, protect ecosystems, and contribute to the economic and cultural viability of their communities and businesses, allowing them to continue producing outstanding quality grapes and wines for years to come.

Although the state’s growers and vintners were using sustainable practices long before the emergence of sustainability programs, today’s California wine community has gone further. The industry’s dedication to sustainability is demonstrated by the incredible growth in vineyard and winery participation in education and certification programs over the past three decades, with significant investment of time and resources needed to implement and document sustainable practices and verify those practices through third-party certifications.

This milestones timeline featured below showcases the California wine industry’s broad participation in sustainability programs, the wide adoption of practices and the positive impacts these efforts have had on the environment and winegrowing regions across the state. Viewing the statewide collection of programs and initiatives, and their evolution over time is truly inspiring. Yet it is the people — the growers and vintners — who deserve to be recognized and celebrated for their unwavering commitment to fostering a healthy environment and vibrant communities.

Sustainable Winegrowing Means: Producing high quality grapes & wines, protecting the environment, being a good neighbor & employer, maintaining a thriving long-term business
The California wine community has earned its reputation as a global leader in sustainability. Sustainable winegrowing has been widely embraced by California growers and vintners, and educational and certification programs have demonstrated this commitment to policymakers, wine trade and consumers.Allison Jordan, Executive Director, California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance

Many Ways to Be Sustainable

Several California organizations are dedicated to supporting vibrant businesses, stronger communities and a healthier environment through their educational and certification sustainability programs. For decades these organizations have encouraged the state’s growers and vintners to adopt sustainable winegrowing practices.

CSWA
California Association of Winegrape Growers
LODI Wine Winegrape Commission
NAPA Green
NAPA Valley Vintners
Sonoma County Winegrowers
Vineyard Team
Wine Institute
Resource Conservation Districts
CA Land Stewardship Institute
CA Green Business Network
Demeter
Certified CCOF Organic


Broad Industry Participation

California is home to the world’s most widely adopted sustainable winegrowing programs in terms of both winegrape acreage and case production. As the fourth-largest wine producing region in the world, these numbers demonstrate the deep commitment to sustainability by the California wine industry.

55% of California winegrape acres are certified sustainable

5,639 certified vineyards farm 343,541 acres*

*Some vineyards are certified to more than one program.

82%of California wine is made in a certified sustainable winery

250 certified wineries produce 258 million cases

2021


CSWA Publishes California Wine Community Sustainability Report

CSWA releases the 2020 California Wine Community Sustainability Report which reflects broad participation in its educational and certification programs, and wide implementation of sustainable practices in vineyards and wineries around the state. The report provides aggregated data on 144 vineyard and 105 winery best practices included in the comprehensive Code of Sustainable Winegrowing.


Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing Website Launches

CSWA launches a new website dedicated to the Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing program. Developed for trade, media, consumers and visitors who want to find sustainable wines, wineries and vineyards that are certified with a rigorous third-party audit. The website also illustrates how sustainable vineyards and wineries are making wine in an environmentally and socially responsible way.


2nd U.S. Sustainable Winegrowing Summit and U.S. Website  

Organizations that represent the largest winegrowing states in the country — California, Oregon, New York and Washington, which produce 95% of U.S. wine — host the 2nd U.S. Summit and launch a new U.S. Sustainable Winegrowing website to communicate the U.S. wine industry’s commitment to sustainability. Summit attendees participate in a virtual tasting, hear from sustainable winegrowers in the field and learn how they are adapting practices in the face of climate change. They also gain insight into how to communicate practices in ways that resonate with consumers and trade. View recordings and highlights.


Napa Green Vineyard Certification Launches

Napa Green launches new, cutting edge Napa Green Vineyard certification (replacing the former Napa Green Land program) focused on climate action, regenerative farming, and social equity.

2020

4th Edition California Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Workbook shield


CSWA Publishes 4th Edition California Code of Sustainable Winegrowing

CSWA, Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers publish an updated and expanded version of the Code workbook, originally published in 2002. After extensive review by a joint committee (of 50 growers and vintners) the 4th Edition includes new topics such as diversity, equity and inclusion, soil carbon sequestration, virus management and vineyard solid waste, as well as updated best practices and educational content.


Searchable Resource Library Provides Education & Tools 

CSWA launches a new searchable Resource Library to help winegrape growers and vintners access educational resources and tools that provide how-to guidance on the adoption of sustainable practices. Resources include templates, videos and much more on abroad range of sustainable winegrowing topics.

OUTREACH & EDUCATION SUPPORT VINEYARD AND WINERY SUSTAINABILITY

The California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA) and other organizations — e.g., Lodi Winegrape Commission, Napa Green, Sonoma County Winegrowers, Vineyard Team, Fish Friendly Farming and Resource Conservation Districts — collaborate to plan and host educational events and develop and disseminate educational materials focused on the highest priority and most challenging areas in sustainable winegrowing.

Targeted education events such as workshops, field days and webinars support participants’ implementation of sustainable vineyard and winery practices. Growers, vintners, government agencies, industry experts, scientists and NGOs are among those that share their knowledge and guidance. Together, these organizations host 2,200+ educational events for over 85,000 participants across the past two decades.

CSWA’s California Code of Sustainable Winegrowing (first published in 2002 and now in the 4th Edition), a self-assessment and educational workbook, builds on the foundation of the Lodi Winegrape Commission’s Lodi Winegrower’s Workbook, Vineyard Team’s Positive Points System and other regional sustainability initiatives as a tool for both vineyards and wineries across the state.

A Risk Guide, Sustainability Reports and many other educational resources are among the Alliance’s other publications. Vineyard Team’s resources library and sustainable winegrowing podcast, Lodi Winegrape Commission’s viticulture library and virus resources, Napa Green’s member resources and the Resource Conservation Districts North Coast Soil Health Hub also showcase the wealth of educational information available about sustainable practices. Many of these resources have been translated into Spanish, such as the LODI RULES standards in 2020.

Together these tools and resources provide practical, how-to guidance and tools to learn, track and measure and help winegrape growers and vintners make on-the-ground improvements and communicate about sustainability.

The goal is not just to help winegrowers pursue water conservation and the integrity of the soil. We’re involved in issues like social responsibility, safe pest management, wildlife support and alternative energy.- Beth Vukmanic, Executive Director, Vineyard Team 

2019

California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary, Karen Ross, delivering keynote address


California, Oregon, Washington & New York Organizations Host 1st U.S. Sustainable Winegrowing Summit in California

Growers, vintners, state and regional associations and others committed to sustainability convene in Sonoma County, California in June 2019 for the inaugural U.S. Sustainable Winegrowing Summit. Attendees from six states hear sustainability perspectives from winegrowers and other business sectors, learn about consumer and trade perceptions and gain inspiration to continue sustainability education and how to communicate to a global audience.  

I’m impressed by the progression of sustainable winegrowing in the U.S. wine industry, and the unique ways in which winegrowing regions around the country are interconnected – with a common bond of dedication to future generations. - Secretary Karen Ross, California Department of Food and Agriculture


Climate Adaptation Certification Pilot Program Launches in Sonoma

Sonoma County Winegrowers partners with the California Land Stewardship Institute (CLSI, operators of the Fish Friendly Farming program) to launch a pilot of the Climate Adaptation Certification (CAC) developed by CLSI in 2017.The CAC includes sophisticated, site specific modeling of greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration for all practices used on the farm in customized plans. The pilot begins in Sonoma in January 2020 for 20 farms will incorporate feedback and ideas from Sonoma growers.

Napa Green Becomes an Independent Non-Profit Organization

Napa Green, a third-party certified sustainability certification program for vineyards (Napa Green Land, est. 2004) and wineries (Napa Green Winery, est.2008), first initiated under Napa Valley Vintners, becomes an independent non-profit organization.

Announcement for 99% of Sonoma County vineyards certified sustainable
Photo: Kerana Todorov/Wine Business Monthly

Sonoma County Winegrowers Announce 99% of Vineyard Acres are Certified Sustainable

In September 2019, Sonoma County Winegrowers announces that 99% of Sonoma County’s vineyards are certified to Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing, Fish Friendly Farming, LODI RULES or SIP Certified®. In 2014, the organization sets a goal to become the nation’s first 100% certified sustainable wine region in five years by providing technical assistance, collaborating on outreach and education and obtaining grant funding to help cover the first-year cost of certification.

SUSTAINABILITY CERTIFICATION ADDS TRANSPARENCY & CREDIBILITY

The industry’s pursuit of continuous improvement leads to the development of certification programs that enhance transparency, bolster credibility and advance the California wine industry towards best practices in environmental stewardship, conservation of natural resources and socially equitable business practices. Vineyards and wineries that obtain sustainability certification undergo independent verification to ensure that they meet rigorous, publicly available requirements.

To date, wineries that produce 82% of California’s wine cases are certified and 54% of California winegrape acres are certified to one or more of the following programs:  Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing, Fish Friendly Farming, LODI RULES, Napa Green, and/or SIP Certified®. Others are certified Biodynamic®, Organic, LandSmart® or California Green Business.  In addition, the Sonoma County Sustainably Farmed Grapes logo can appear on wines that have been made with grapes from vineyards that are Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing, Fish Friendly Farming, LODI RULES or SIP Certified®. 

CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT OF PROGRAMS

As programs evolve to certification, organizations update and improve the educational tools and certification standards central to their programs. Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing launched in 2010 for vineyards and wineries and updated in 2017 to allow logo and claims on wine labels, along with four editions of the California Code of Sustainable Winegrowing. LODI RULES for Sustainable Winegrowing Certification Standards launched through Protected Harvest in 2005 with a 2nd Edition published in 2013 and a 3rd Edition in 2017. SIP Certified® first launched in 2008 has undergone four external peer reviews with experts.

When you drink a glass of wine made from certified sustainable grapes, you are supporting a farmer, a vintner, and an entire agricultural community that embraces their responsibility to care for the environment and the people.  - Stephanie Bolton PhD, Sustainable Winegrowing Director, Lodi Winegrape Commission

2018

Sonoma County Sustainably Farmed Grapes logo


“Sustainably Farmed Grapes Logo” and Sustainable Ag Think Tank Launch

Sonoma County Winegrowers (SCW) releases its "Sustainably Farmed Grapes" logo for wine labels starting with the 2017 vintage. Wines that use 85% certified sustainable grapes from Sonoma County and approved certification programs (Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing, Fish Friendly Farming, LODI RULES and SIP Certified®) may use the label. SCW also announces the launch of a new Sonoma County Center for Ag Sustainability a think tank to help winegrowers focus on the most challenging issues.

Cover of 2017 Certified Sustainable Annual Report


CSWA Publishes 1st Annual Certification Report

California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance releases its first annual Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing Annual Report highlighting the accomplishments and adoption of sustainable practices by vineyards and wineries that are Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing. The program has subsequently reported double-digit growth in the 2018, 2019 and 2020 certification reports.

LODI RULES Creates Consumer-Targeted Website

Lodirules.org launches to explain sustainable winegrowing certification to a consumer audience.

Consumers are increasingly interested in sustainability and seek easy ways to identify sustainable wine.

2017


Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing Allows Wine Label Logo & Claims

California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance completes a two-year update of the certification program requirements to allow for the use of the certification logo and claims on wine labels. Its circular logo on the bottle signifies that wine was made in a certified winery with 85% or more of winegrapes from certified vineyards and 100% of grapes from California.


Resource Conservation Districts Launch 1st Carbon Farm Planning Program for Vineyards

Sonoma and Napa Resource Conservation Districts work with growers to develop LandSmart® Carbon Farm Plans to identify practices that increase carbon sequestration and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and quantify climate benefits of implementing practices at the farm scale. Practices improve soil health, water holding capacity, crop and forage production, water conservation and on-farm habitat.

First SIP Certified® Vineyard 
Outside Of California

The first out-of-state vineyard achieves SIP Certified® in Michigan.


LODI RULES Expands Beyond 
California

The first international vineyard is certified sustainable under the LODI RULES program in Israel; the program's first foray into the international market. In 2020, LODI RULES certifies a vineyard in Washington State.

2016


Vineyard Team Begins Winery Certifications

Four years in the making, Vineyard Team begins a pilot program for its SIP Certified® winery certification program. The standards cover energy efficiency, water use, glass and paper recycling, social equity and financial sustainability of wine production, augmenting the vineyard certification that launched in 2008.


FIVS International Greenhouse Gas Protocol Gets an Update

The California wine industry works with FIVS (an international trade association for all sectors of the alcohol beverage industry) and other international partners to update an International Wine Greenhouse Gas Protocol, a tool first published in 2008 to provide a common global framework for calculating and communicating about carbon emissions that is in step with international standards and practices.

Vineyard Team Launches the Sustainable Winegrowing Podcast

The new podcast is an on-the-go, sustainable farming educational resource that provides in-depth technical information on topics like integrated pest management, fruit quality, water conservation, and nutrient management from international experts.

California Wine Organizations Receive Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Innovator Award

SIP Certified® achieves the Department of Pesticide Regulation Integrated Pest Management Innovator Award (and in 2010). Wine Institute and California Association of Winegrape Growers receive award in 2003, and Lodi Winegrape Commission receive the award in 1994.

CALIFORNIA GREEN MEDAL SUSTAINABLE WINEGROWING 
LEADERSHIP AWARDS 
RECOGNIZES WINE
COMMUNITY LEADERS

The annual California Green Medal awards showcase the amazing commitment many California growers and vintners have made to protecting the environment and enhancing the communities in which they live and work. The awards inspire others in the industry and highlight the benefits of participating in a sustainability program.

The California Green Medal awards program provides an exciting opportunity for California winegrowers to be recognized for their hard work and dedication to sustainability and to share the industry’s leadership with policymakers and other stakeholders.- John Aguirre, Former President, California Association of Winegrape Growers 

Four Green Medals are presented in the following categories:

Leader Award medal

Leader Award

Excels in the three “Es” of sustainability – Environmentally sound, socially Equitable and Economically viable practices.

Environment Award medal

Environment Award

Demonstrates environmental stewardship and maximizes environmental benefits through implementing sustainable practices.

Business Award medal

Business Award

Exemplifies smart business by implementing sustainable practices, leveraging innovation and improving efficiencies and cost savings.

Community Award medal

Community Award

Uses innovative practices that enhance relations with employees, neighbors and communities.

To view all recipients, visit: All Winners - California Green Medal‍

2015


1st California Green Medal Awards

The California Green Medal: Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Awards, showcasing some of the leading wineries and vineyards committed to sustainability with an annual awards program, is developed by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, California Association of Winegrape Growers, Wine Institute, Lodi Winegrape Commission, Napa Green, Napa Valley Vintners, Sonoma County Winegrowers and Vineyard Team.


Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs) Begin Certifying LandSmart® Vineyard Plans

First started in 2013 Sonoma, Napa County, Mendocino and Gold Ridge RCDs in collaboration with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, land managers and environmental agencies develop LandSmart® to help land managers meet their natural resource management goals while supporting productive lands and thriving streams. Beginning in 2016, the Verification of LandSmart® Vineyard Plans by a third-party certifier offers a path to compliance with waste discharge requirements or Napa Green Land Certification.


Lodi Winegrape Commission Releases LODI RULES for Sustainable Winegrowing Report

The 2015 LODI RULES Report presents the high adoption rates of sustainable farming practices included in the six chapters of the LODI RULES grower program: ecosystem management, education, training and team building, soil management, water management, vineyard establishment and pest management.

Sonoma County Winegrowers Release 1st Annual Sustainability Report

Sonoma County Winegrowers’ first annual report addresses sustainability efforts demonstrating how the community is working together to continue leadership in this realm. The report is sent out in newspapers to neighbors, local businesses and winegrowers and features people and the stories behind Sonoma County vineyards and wines and their contribution to the community and the land. Subsequent reports are published in 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

2014

FIVS logo

FIVS Develops Global Wine Sector Environmental Sustainability Principles

FIVS members, including Wine Institute, develop Global Wine Sector Environmental Sustainability Principles and recognize CSWA along with other environmental stewardship programs (South Africa, New Zealand and Australia) for satisfying the triple bottom line of economic, environmental and social sustainability. The recognition helps create a common definition of sustainability and lends international credibility to the California program.

COMMUNICATIONS TO PROMOTE SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES AND CALIFORNIA LEADERSHIP

CSWA and other California sustainability programs communicate about the benefits of sustainable practices through workbooks, websites, newsletters, workshops and other channels. These organizations also communicate about the California wine community’s commitment to sustainable winegrowing to key stakeholders in both the public policy and market arenas and, in turn, the California wine industry has been widely recognized as a sustainability leader and model for other wine regions and agricultural sectors across the globe.

Sustainability has become a major theme in industry communications from the California Wines' “Golden State of Mind” campaign and regional promotional websites to individual winery marketing. In 2011, Wine Institute launched Down to Earth Month, a monthlong celebration each April with sustainably focused events, in-person experiences and special offers. Wine Institute also created the California Sustainable Winegrowing Ambassador Course, a free online certificate program, for wine professionals and wine lovers. Other communications include Vineyard Team’s podcasts, LODI RULES Grower Marketing Tools, Sonoma Winegrape Commission’s augmented reality sustainability label and Napa Green’s Ambassador Training.

Certification programs also often have websites that allow interested trade members and consumers to learn more about certification and which vineyards and wineries are certified — e.g., Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing, LODI RULES, Napa Green, SIP Certified®.

California’s sustainability programs provide meaningful tools to ensure that California growers and vintners continue to produce high quality grapes and wine for generations to come, and to share that commitment with the world.  - Robert (Bobby) Koch, President and CEO, Wine Institute

2012

Icons representing the metrics measured by the Performance Metrics Tool - water use, energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and nitrogen use

CSWA Launches Performance Metrics Tool

CSWA introduces a new online Performance Metrics Tool to provide growers and vintners with tools to measure, manage and track their use of natural resources in order to optimize operations, decrease costs and increase sustainability. Metrics include tracking water use, energy use, and greenhouse gas emissions in vineyards and wineries; and nitrogen use in vineyards. In 2017, tracking metrics became a requirement for certification.

Nesting boxes placed in or around a vineyard provide additional habitat for birds that can act as predators to rodents or insect pests.

2011


Wine Institute Releases Carbon Footprint of the California Wine Industry

Wine Institute works with PE INTERNATIONAL to conduct a carbon footprint assessment of the California wine industry to better understand areas that have the greatest impact on greenhouse gas emissions. The study identifies packaging, vineyard field emissions, vineyard and winery electricity usage for operations and distribution of wine as areas with the most opportunity for improvement.


Wine Institute Launches Down to Earth Month  

Down to Earth Month is an annual celebration of the California wine industry’s commitment to sustainability. All month long, wineries and regional associations across the state highlight their sustainable farming, winemaking and business practices through a variety of fun and engaging events and activities, from wine tastings to vineyard hikes to behind-the-scenes sustainability tours.

SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES LEAD TO POSITIVE OUTCOMES FOR THE INDUSTRY, ENVIRONMENT AND COMMUNITIES

Sustainable practices can benefit vineyards and wineries by providing business value such as increasing revenue, improving brand reputation, attracting and retaining employees, increasing efficiency and productivity, reducing risk and assisting with regulatory management. By conserving natural resources, protecting air and water quality and enhancing relationships with neighbors, these practices can also have positive impacts on the environment and in winegrowing communities across the state.

Increasing adoption of sustainable practices is one way to measure success, and these practices often have additional beneficial outcomes. Increasingly, vineyards and wineries are tracking their performance outcomes with metrics such as energy and water use efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions and applied nitrogen. From 2005-2012, CSWA partnered with Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and regional associations to host over 50 energy management workshops attended by 1,400 wine industry members. Since 2001, PG&E recorded an increase in the number of annual energy-efficiency projects in California wineries and vineyards:

  • 520 energy efficiency projects
  • 350 California wineries received approximately $37.6 million in PG&E rebates
  • 200,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity and more than 4,000 therms of natural gas were saved
  • More than 76,990 tons of carbon dioxide emissions were eliminated, the equivalent of removing 12,918 cars off the road for one year

As another example, Fish Friendly Farming vineyards have applied best management practices to over 900 miles of roads and 420 miles of creeks and rivers to reduce fine sediment pollutants and restore fish and wildlife habitats. In addition, Napa Green has facilitated more than 130 resource audits on energy, water and waste, helping members conserve more than 13 million gallons of water, more than two million kilowatt (kWh) hours of electricity and save more than one million dollars in energy costs, as well as additional savings from efficiency improvements and rebates. The relaunch of the Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation is an example of a regional sustainability program that is effectively supporting farmworkers through wildfire, COVID-19 and other community needs.

Solar panels

Watching vineyards and wineries that have been certified for multiple years is wonderful as you are able to witness the sustainability dialogue grow and become more complex. Certification allows internal communication and creativeness as a team that might not happen without opening the doors to sustainability.  - Emily Farrant, Accredited Auditor

2010


Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing Launches for Vineyards and Wineries

California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance introduces Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing, a statewide certification program that provides third-party verification of a winery or vineyard’s adoption and implementation of sustainable practices. The program was updated in 2017 to enable logos and claims on wine labels.

Installing timers for barrel washing, along with using a high pressure/low volume nozzle, helps conserve water needed for barrel cleaning.

2008


SIP Certified® Vineyard Certification Begins

The Central Coast Vineyard Team (now Vineyard Team) launches a SIP Certified® pilot program with vineyards between Monterey and Santa Barbara Counties. The standards require a measurable, holistic set of practices addressing habitat, water, energy, soil, recycling, air quality, packaging, pest management, social equity and business management. The standard undergoes additional external peer reviews in 2022, 2018, 2015 and 2013.


Napa Green Winery Certification Begins

Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) builds on the success of Napa Green Land and creates Napa Green Winery, a soil to bottle sustainability certification program for wineries. NVV collaborates with consultants and Napa County staff to develop the winery standards and third-party certification through the California Green Business Network.

Drip-irrigated vineyards can produce healthier vines with more uniform growth, leading to better wine quality.

CLIMATE SMART WINEGROWING HELPS GROWERS MITIGATE & ADAPT TO CLIMATE CHANGE

Like winegrowers around the world, California vineyards and wineries respond to climate and weather issues on a daily basis. The diversity of California’s growing regions, skill and experience of its vintners and growers and their commitment to sustainable winegrowing all help in terms of both adaptation and mitigation. The comprehensiveness of sustainability – which includes soil management, energy and water use efficiency, air quality, pest management and human resources, among other topics — make it an effective approach for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and adapting to climate change.

The industry has come together to develop a number of tools and resources related to climate change, including an International Wine Greenhouse Gas Protocol for measuring winery and vineyard GHG emissions, and a study of California Wine’s Carbon Footprint. CSWA calibrated and validated the DNDC computer model for California vineyards in order to understand the ability of vineyard soil to sequester (capture and store) carbon, and integrated it into a GHG performance metric for vineyards, in addition to its GHG metric for wineries. The California Resource Conservation Districts also launched a Carbon Farm Planning program for vineyards in 2017, and, in 2020, Sonoma County Winegrowers and the California Land Stewardship Institute partnered to launch a Climate Adaptation Certification pilot.

Carbon farm plans allow growers to be part of the climate solution. We share with growers the multitude of opportunities for soil carbon sequestration on their farms, and they can mix and match practices that work best for them.  - Frances Knapczyk, Program Director, Napa County Resource Conservation District

2006

Solar panels are a common site in California wine country as wineries and vineyards aim to decrease their carbon footprint.

LODI RULES Receives State's Top Environmental Honor  

The Lodi Winegrape Commission and its LODI RULES program receive their first Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership (GEELA) award for addressing major environmental, economic and social challenges facing the California agricultural industry (also awarded in 2014). Other organizations also receive the distinction for their sustainability achievements, including the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (2004, 2010, 2015), California Land Stewardship Institute (2011) and Sonoma County Winegrowers (2016).

2005


LODI RULES for Sustainable Winegrowing Certification Begins

After existing for a decade as a grower education program of the Lodi Winegrape Commission, LODI RULES sustainable certification becomes a formal certification program, administered by Protected Harvest. In 2016, a new CALIFORNA RULES label is created. The LODI RULES Standards are updated in 2013 with the 2nd Edition and in2017 with the 3rd Edition and translated into Spanish in 2020.

Vineyard Team Begins Hosting Sustainable Ag Expo

The multi-day educational conference brings the latest scientific and technical information to growers, pest control advisors, and other agricultural professionals interested in and committed to sustainable farming.

2004

CSWA Publishes 1st California Wine Community Sustainability Report

CSWA presents its first report measuring the level of sustainable practices among vintners and growers on a statewide basis. The report is the first time an entire industry sector uses a common assessment tool to document the adoption of sustainable practices among its members and report the results publicly. 


Napa Valley Vintners Introduces Napa Green Land

Napa Valley Vintners launches Napa Green Land based on Fish Friendly Farming to help growers meet and exceed environmental compliance in response to the California Environmental Protection Agency’s declaration that the Napa River is impaired and the State Water Board setting reduction standards for “Total Maximum Daily Load” or TMDL of fine sediment into the river. Starting in 2016, LandSmart® Program offers an additional path to Napa Green Land Certification.

SUSTAINABILITY REPORTING TRACKS PROGRESS

Sustainability reports – from associations or individual companies – have become an important tool for sharing information about broad sustainability program participation and wide adoption of sustainable practices by California winegrape growers and vintners.  Since the inception of the Sustainable Winegrowing Program, CSWA has produced in-depth California Wine Community Sustainability Reports every 5 years, beginning in 2004, with subsequent reports in 2009 and 2015.

In the current 2020 report, CSWA embraced technology to present information about all California initiatives and to celebrate more than two decades of programs committed to sustainable winegrowing. More details regarding CSWA’s program and adoption of practices can be found in the Appendix.

2003


Wine Institute, California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, and California Association of Winegrape Growers triangle


Wine Institute and California Association of Winegrape Growers Establish the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance

Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers create the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, to promote the benefits of sustainable winegrowing practices, enlist industry commitment and assist in implementation of the Sustainable Winegrowing Program throughout the state of California.


Chickens play their part in the vineyard by fertilizing the soil and helping to manage insects.

2002


Wine Institute and CAWG Publish 1st California Code of Sustainable Winegrowing

Building on regional sustainability efforts, Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers introduce a code of best management practices for both wineries and vineyards throughout California, with input from the Joint Committee (comprised of 50 growers and vintners), industry experts and stakeholders from government, academia and nonprofit organizations. The California Code of Sustainable Winegrowing is a voluntary self-assessment tool and how-to workbook on how to conserve natural resources, protect the environment and enhance relationships with employees, neighbors and local communities. In 2010, the Code workbook becomes the basis of Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing.

Night harvesting reduces the ambient heat stored in grapes and therefore reduces cooling requirements at the winery. It also allows vineyard workers to pick grapes while avoiding the hottest parts of the day.

2000


Lodi Winegrape Commission Releases Lodi Winegrower's Workbook

Lodi Winegrape Commission staff, member winegrowers, viticulture and pest management consultants, University of California Cooperative Extension scientists and farm advisers and a wildlife biologist create the Lodi Winegrowers’ Workbook. The workbook is the first of its kind in the winegrowing industry and serves as a tool to help Lodi winegrowers manage their vineyard operations in a way that balances economic, environmental and social goals of sustainable agriculture. The workbook is the basis of LODI RULES and a number of sustainability programs, including the viticultural chapters of the California Code of Sustainable Winegrowing. A second edition is released in 2008.

Wooly weeders: grazing sheep improve soil health as they mow the vineyard.

1999

Certified Fish Friendly Farming logo


Fish Friendly Farming Program Launches

Fish Friendly Farming (FFF) is a certification program for agricultural properties to help restore fish and wildlife habitat and improve water quality. A workbook of Beneficial Management Practices and a Farm Conservation Plan Template is published in 1999 and sponsored by the Sotoyome Resource Conservation District until 2004 when the California Land Stewardship Institute forms to run FFF and associated projects. Grapegrowers, representatives from government agencies and environmental groups participate in an advisory committee and the program is audited by government agencies.


California Winegrape Pest Management Alliance Forms

The California Association of Winegrape Growers leads a grower-driven collaboration with the Department of Pesticide Regulation to promote reduced-risk pest management. The Pest Management Alliance has the statewide mission to promote pest management practices that minimize the potential for environmental and human harm while maintaining the economic viability of winegrape production.

Aerial photo of vineyards

SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAMS PROVIDE REGULATORY COMPLIANCE ALTERNATIVE OR ASSISTANCE

Fish Friendly Farming paved the way for demonstrating that environmental and sustainability programs can provide an additional benefit by achieving recognition by regulatory agencies. For instance, the program serves as a means of implementing practices that protect water quality that are part of state and federal water quality laws, ensuring that Fish Friendly Farming-certified sites are compliant with regulations. Fish Friendly Farming was approved by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Board for compliance with the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program. In addition, SIP Certified® helps vineyards comply with the Irrigated Lands Agricultural Order 3.0.

In 2017, the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board approved third-party programs to assist growers in complying with a water quality Waste Discharge Requirement (WDR) permit for vineyards in the Napa River and Sonoma Creek Watersheds, including CSWA’s Region 2 Vineyard WDR third-party Program, Fish Friendly Farming, the Sonoma and Napa Resource Conservation District’s (RCD’s) LandSmart® Program and the Vineyard Team’s partnership program with LandSmart® and Fish Friendly Farming.

Farmers have to comply with a great deal of regulation creating expense and concern especially for small growers. The Fish Friendly Farming program was designed to provide both a regulatory compliance and sustainability certification and provide the greatest benefit to the grower. - Laurel Marcus, Executive Director, Fish Friendly Farming

1996

Central Coast Vineyard Team logo


Vineyard Team Launches Positive Point System

The Central Coast Vineyard Team (now the Vineyard Team) develops the Positive Point System, the first self-assessment for sustainable vineyard farming, to educate and guide growers towards sustainable practices. The Positive Point System evaluates the extent of integrated farming practices based on a 1,000 point scale scored via a yes/no questionnaire.


Bay Area Green Business Program Launches

The Association of Bay Area Governments launches Green California Green Business Network to improve compliance and pollution prevention. As the first compliance, standards-based, comprehensive small business certification program in the state, it becomes a model for future certification programs in the wine industry — i.e., Napa Green Winery. The program certifies small businesses, including wineries, for energy and water conservation, waste minimization, pollution prevention and greenhouse gas reductions.

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Lodi Starts First District Wide Viticultural IPM Program in U.S.

Lodi Winegrape Commission (formerly Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission) embarks on an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, which serves as the foundation for the LODI RULES sustainability certification program.

A majority of waste generated from the winemaking process is organic in nature and can be composted for direct use back in the vineyards.