1. A Code to Live By
California growers and vintners subscribe to California’s Sustainable Winegrowing Program (SWP), which establishes eco-friendly standards and practices from ground to glass.
2. Alternative Energy: Solar, Wind and Vegetable Oil
Solar panels and wind turbines are becoming as much a part of the wine country landscape as grapevines as California growers and vintners quickly embrace alternative energy sources, including biodegradable fuel -- produced from vegetable oils and animal fats -- to power farm equipment and “on road” transport motor vehicles.
3. It Takes a Menagerie: Critters in the Vineyards
Sheep and goats and chickens – oh my! Winegrowers 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.
4. Green Architecture
California wineries use “green” building and materials – straw bales, rammed earth, earthen plaster, recycled lumber -- techniques and designs that take energy conservation and long-term environmental impact into consideration.
5. Ecosystem Management & Restoration Projects
California vineyards are designed with the larger ecosystem in mind, preserving vernal pools, oak woodlands, and other wildlife habitats and creating nest boxes for owls, raptors and other beneficial birds. California winegrowers are at the forefront of habitat restoration and preservation efforts, working with government agencies to establish conservation easements and restore watersheds.
6. Fields of Dreams: Cover Crops and Compost
California winegrowers use cover crops and compost in the vineyards to enrich healthy soils with biomass and vibrant populations of microbes and worms and to prevent erosion and attract helpful insects that prey on pests.
7. It Starts at Home: Human Resources
Dozens of California vineyards and wineries have employee-run recycling and solid waste management programs.
8. Our Most Precious Resource: Water Conservation
California winegrowers have adopted water conservation practices, including drip irrigation systems that use technology to sense soil moisture and monitor plant stress, thereby determining the precise level of water and timing of water applications.
9. Climate Change: Everyone’s Business
California winegrowers 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 and sharing the accounting tool worldwide at no charge. They are also increasing their energy efficiency by insulating tanks, installing new lighting fixtures and adopting innovative new packaging.
10. Being a Good Neighbor: Community Involvement & Philanthropy
SAN FRANCISCO—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.”