Earth Day 2008 will be celebrated on April 22. This year more Americans than ever will re-examine how their lifestyles and choices impact the environment. Global warming, greenhouse gases and carbon footprint have become household terms, and consumer groups, government agencies, and businesses are working on ways to preserve the land, air, water and other natural resources.
Protecting the environment is a priority for the California wine industry, and has been for years. Vintners and growers made a formal commitment to implement sustainable practices by establishing in 2002 a best practices program named the Code of Sustainable Winegrowing. In honor of Earth Day 2008, California’s two largest trade associations – Wine Institute, representing the state’s vintners, and the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG), representing its winegrape growers – have developed the “Top 10 Reasons California Wines are an Eco-Friendly Choice,” a list to inform consumers about where and how their wines and foods are grown.
“We know consumers have many choices when it comes to wine,” says Karen Ross, President of CAWG. “Especially around Earth Day, we want wine consumers to know that when they choose California wine, they are making a choice for the environment.”
“California wine is ahead of the curve in establishing and adopting sound environmental practices,” commented Robert P. (Bobby) Koch, President and CEO of Wine Institute. “Our Code of Sustainable Winegrowing sets forth standards and guidelines for reducing environmental impacts, because it’s the right thing to do for our families and communities, our future and for enhancing wine quality.”
The Code is laid out in a workbook and covers hundreds of sustainable vineyard and winery practices that California growers and vintners employ. In creating this “Top10” list, Wine Institute and CAWG selected practices that would be most relevant to today’s consumer:
Red, White & Green:
Top 10 Reasons California Wines Are an Eco-Friendly Choice
California’s Vintners and Growers…
- Subscribe to California’s Sustainable Winegrowing Program (SWP), which establishes eco-friendly standards and practices from ground to glass.
- Have embraced alternative energy sources such as solar and wind, including biodegradable fuel, produced from vegetable oils and animal fats.
- Use sheep, goats, chickens, falcons, owls, dogs, beneficial insects and other creatures to provide a low-impact, natural method to cultivate vineyards and manage pests.
- Use “green” building materials – straw bales, rammed earth, earthen plaster, recycled lumber – in winery construction.
- Preserve vernal pools, oak woodlands, and other wildlife habitats, and create nest boxes for owls, raptors and other beneficial birds when designing vineyards. Are at the forefront of habitat restoration and preservation efforts.
- Use cover crops and compost in the vineyards to prevent erosion, attract helpful insects that prey on pests, and to enrich healthy soils with biomass and vibrant populations of microbes and worms.
- Have employee-run recycling and solid waste management programs.
- Have adopted winery and vineyard water conservation practices, including drip irrigation systems that use technology to sense soil moisture and monitor plant stress.
- Have committed themselves to measuring and reducing their greenhouse gas footprint by working with international partners to develop the Wine Industry Greenhouse Gas Accounting Protocol. Are sharing the accounting tool worldwide at no charge. Are increasing their energy efficiency with methods such as insulating tanks and installing new lighting fixtures, and adopting innovative new packaging.
- Are good neighbors by not only caring for the environment but giving back to communities with generous support to non-profit and charitable organizations amounting to $115 million annually.
For consumers interested in learning more about California’s sustainable winegrowing practices, the Wine Institute and CAWG invite them to go to www.sustainablewinegrowing.org, the web site of the California Sustainable Wine Alliance, a nonprofit formed by the two trade associations to implement the sustainable winegrowing program.