The Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Practices workbook was introduced in 2002 by members of Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) to promote environmental stewardship and social responsibility in the California wine industry. The workbook is a self-assessment tool for California's vintners and growers and provides practical information on how to conserve natural resources, protect the environment and enhance relationships with employees, neighbors and local communities. The organizations formed the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization a year later to promote the benefits of sustainable winegrowing practices, enlist industry commitment and assist in implementation of the Sustainable Winegrowing Program.
"With California's booming population, there is more competition for land and other natural resources. The Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Practices helps assure that our wineries and vineyards continue to thrive alongside communities to produce world-class wines," said Robert P. Koch, president and CEO of the Wine Institute, a public policy advocacy group, representing more than 1,000 California wineries and affiliated organizations responsible for 85 percent of the nation's wine production. "Sustainable winegrowing not only improves wine quality, but helps us compete in the global market place where consumers are increasingly interested in knowing that the foods and wines they enjoy are produced in an environmentally friendly manner."
More than 50 members of Wine Institute and CAWG developed the Sustainable Winegrowing Program and the 490-page workbook over a two-year period. Environmentalists, regulators, university educators and social equity groups provided expertise to the program as well. The workbook includes 14 chapters of practical guidelines, including information on winegrape growing, soil management, pest management, ecosystems management, water and energy conservation, materials handling and human resources, as well as a new air quality chapter. The workbook's built-in scientific measurement system helps track the industry's progress in adopting the practices. Over 3,000 workbooks have been distributed since its introduction. In December 2006, an updated second edition of the workbook and an online self-assessment system was released. Program participants can now go online to assess and re-assess their operations, instantly generate reports, and access many other new program benefits.
"This workbook laces together the impressive work done at the regional level regarding growing practices, with ground-breaking information related to winemaking and improving relations with employees, neighbors and communities. It is really the first of its kind," said Karen Ross, president of CAWG, an organization whose growers represent about 60 percent of the total annual grape crush.
This collaborative effort has resulted in more than 100 self-assessment workshops in 24 counties covering all of the major winegrowing regions of California, with over 1,165 wineries and vineyards participating. Participants voluntarily contribute benchmark data measuring the level of adoption of sustainable practices in their vineyard and winery operations. CSWA reported on data representing 40% of wine production and 25% of the vineyards in California in its first Sustainability Report in October of 2004. The report describes California's sustainable winegrowing strengths and opportunities for improvement and set new goals to increase adoption of environmentally-friendly practices.
Based on the report findings, CSWA is conducting new sustainable winegrowing targeted education workshops focused on the most challenging areas including integrated pest management (IPM), ecosystems management, air and water quality, and energy efficiency. More than 92 targeted education workshops have been held for over 5,000 winery and vineyard participants. CSWA reported in a 2006 Progress Report that participation increased 24% since the 2004 report, improvements were seen in practices represented by 31 of 38 criteria as a result of IPM workshops, and a growing number of partners are involved in the program, in addition to other successes. CSWA will issue other follow-up reports tracking the California wine community's progress in the years to come.
The program has been recognized for its innovation by a number of award programs. In October 2003, Wine Institute and CAWG received the Department of Pesticide Regulation's "IPM Innovator of the Year Award" for the program's work in the area of integrated pest management. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger gave the 2004 Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA), the state's top environmental award, to CSWA for the Sustainable Winegrowing Program. In summer 2005, California Council for Environment and Economic Balance presented CSWA, Wine Institute and CAWG the Edmund G. "Pat" Brown Award for demonstrating the ideals of environmental and economic balance.
For information on the SWP, upcoming workshops, and to download the sustainability reports, please visit the CSWA website. Please direct any questions on the SWP to email@example.com or 415/356-7545.