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Social Responsibility

Since its beginning in 1934, Wine Institute has worked to support the California wine industry and enhance the environment for the responsible consumption and enjoyment of wine. Wine Institute’s ongoing social responsibility program promotes moderate consumption, environmental conservation and protection, and involvement with communities and social policy organizations that protect the safety and well-being of employees and consumers. Following are highlights:


Code of Advertising Standards

Wine Institute advocates responsible product advertising through its Code of Advertising Standards which has been upheld as a model of effective industry self-regulation. Since its inception in 1949, the guidelines have undergone regular review and revision to respond to changes in media platforms (including social media), advertising and wine industry practices. The Code includes numerous provisions to ensure that advertising reaches the intended audience of individuals of legal drinking age, portrays wine consumption in a responsible manner and encourages moderation. The guidelines apply to all active members of Wine Institute.

Wine Institute Code of Advertising Standards

California Sustainable Winegrowing

Introduced in 2002 by Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape, the California Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Practices promotes the industry’s environmental stewardship and socially responsible relationships with employees, neighbors and local communities. The California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, a nonprofit 501(c)3, was created to implement the educational Sustainable Winegrowing Program and help increase the widespread adoption of sustainable practices. A third-party certification program, Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing, was initiated in 2010 for vineyards and wineries, and updated in 2017 to enable wine certification. The California Sustainable Winegrowing program is the most comprehensive and widely adopted in the world.

Sustainable Winegrowing Practices

Referral to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Wine Institute refers consumers, media and others to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, published by the Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture, in response to questions about wine consumption. Key recommendations of the alcohol guideline include:

  • If alcohol is consumed, it should be in moderation—no more than one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men—and only by adults of legal drinking age, preferably at mealtime.
  • There are some people who should not consume beverage alcohol at all. Those who are under 21, women who are pregnant, or have a medical or family history of concern, for example. Any person who has concerns about consuming alcohol should consult with their healthcare provider.


Responsible Beverage Service in California

Responsible beverage service is a cornerstone of the hospitality offered at wineries around the state. Currently, winery staff attend a state-approved Licensee Education on Alcohol and Drugs class or an individual company training program on responsible beverage service. Beginning July 1, 2021, responsible beverage service training will become a mandatory state requirement emphasizing the importance of continuing to create an educational tasting environment at all locations and events where wine can be enjoyed in a responsible manner. Tasting room managers, supervisors, and winery employees who serve wine to consumers must attend training from an accredited trainer and pass an exam to become certified by the California Alcohol Beverage Control.


Wine Industry Code for Direct Shipping

Wine Institute supports the Free the Grapes! Wine Industry Code for Direct Shipping for direct wine shipments to adult consumers for personal use. The purpose of the voluntary code is to provide shippers with a framework which, when adopted, will ensure that direct shipment orders and deliveries are completed in a manner consistent with applicable laws, satisfy consumer demand and adhere to the following tenets:

  • supports legislative provisions that satisfy tax payment provisions and reporting procedures
  • protects against sales to minors
  • respects state and local Prohibition laws (e.g., “dry” laws)
  • supports a vibrant national marketplace for the responsible enjoyment of wine


US Industry Involvement

Wine Institute’s staff of dedicated professionals with state and national public policy expertise related to alcohol beverages actively participates in numerous organizations that facilitate dialogue on important issues. Organizations include:


International Industry Involvement

Wine Institute participates in a number of international wine organizations on a wide range of issues such as international food standards guidelines and codes of practice to ensure consumer safety and fair trade practices. Issues addressed cover agricultural practices, wine quality and safety, labeling, abuse prevention and moderation messages. Organizations include the FIVS, World Wine Trade Group, APEC Wine Regulatory Forum, and the International Wine Technical Summit, a collaboration of industry representatives, international scientists, and government scientists and regulators.

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California Winery Contributions

Vintners and growers throughout California generously support a wide range of national and local charitable and community organizations with time, expertise, financial and in-kind contributions. In addition to the vintners’ individual generosity, their participation in wine-related events–from auctions to festivals to winemaker dinners–have become a highly successful means of raising funds for important community causes including education, health care and mental health services, worker housing, conservation easements to preserve open space, the arts, disaster relief efforts and more. Collectively, California wineries contribute more than $250 million annually to charities and nonprofits across the nation, in addition to wine donations to numerous events.