California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance Issues Report

California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance Issues Report

Marking a decade since its establishment, the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA) has issued its 2012 Progress Report, highlighting the release of its third edition California Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Workbook, updated CSWA program participation numbers, and an overview of a new performance metrics tool measuring vineyard and winery use of water, energy and applied nitrogen, and greenhouse gas emissions related to energy use. For a complete copy of the 2012 CSWA Progress Report, go to


Since 2002, CSWA’s Code Workbook has been used by 1,800 vineyard and winery organizations to self-assess their operations, representing 72% of California’s winegrape acreage (389,375 acres) and 74% of its case production (189 million cases). In addition, CSWA has held 232 educational workshops attended by 10,737 participants.

“Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers published the code and established CSWA to position California’s wine community as a world leader in sustainability. With more than 70% of California’s winegrape acreage and case production engaged in the CSWA program, the industry has bolstered its environmental and sustainability credentials in the public policy and marketplace arenas, including the competitive global market,” said Robert P. (Bobby) Koch, president and CEO of Wine Institute. “The scale of this accomplishment is remarkable, as California is the world’s fourth largest wine producer.”

“A tremendous amount of thought, time and effort went into revising the Code Workbook,” said John Aguirre, president of the California Association of Winegrape Growers. “CSWA involved 50 growers and vintners in 35 meetings over two years to review and revise the workbook. As a result, vineyards and wineries of all sizes throughout the state will find the workbook’s updated and revised best practices and resources even more relevant and effective.”

Code Workbook
The third edition Code Workbook is the centerpiece of the CSWA program and covers a broad range of sustainable practices used in vineyard and winery operations. The workbook has 14 chapters encompassing best practices from the grape to glass: viticulture, soil management, vineyard water management, pest management, wine quality, ecosystem management, energy efficiency, winery water conservation and quality, material handling, solid waste reduction and management, environmentally preferable purchasing, human resources, neighbors and community and air quality.

Building on major trends and successful regional efforts, including the first five viticulture chapters of the Lodi Winegrower’s Workbook, the Code was first published in 2002 to help all California vintners and growers continuously improve and adopt sustainable practices. Using a “Cycle of Continuous Improvement,” participants self-assess their operations, interpret their performance, develop actions plans to improve, implement changes and reassess.

Code Workbooks will be provided at no charge to California vintners and growers who attend upcoming workshops listed at A copy can also be requested from CSWA at or [email protected].

“The Code Workbook is a wonderful tool that allows participants to expand sustainable practices according to their company priorities and diverse regional growing conditions,” said Allison Jordan, executive director of CSWA. “CSWA’s goal is for vineyards and wineries that represent 80% of California’s winegrapes and wines to use the Code Workbook to self-assess their operations by 2015.”

Targeted Education
CSWA collaborates with regional grower and vintner organizations throughout the state to develop and hold educational events that target the most challenging areas in specific regions as part of the “Cycle of Continuous Improvement.” CSWA has held the 232 workshops on topics such as air and water quality protection, biodiversity and habitat conservation, pest management and more.

CSWA also partnered with Pacific Gas and Electric to hold more than 50 workshops focused on energy conservation and efficiency for California wineries and vineyards, attended by 1,400 wine industry members. The two organizations produced a video series showcasing case studies on energy efficiency measures undertaken by wineries and vineyards at:

Performance Metrics
In March 2012, CSWA released an online tool to help California growers and vintners measure, track and improve their use of natural resources over time. The initial set of metrics include: water and energy use in vineyards and wineries, greenhouse gas emissions in vineyards and wineries, and applied nitrogen use in vineyards. Participants will be able to compare their natural resource use from year to year and measure outcomes to changed practices. Once a robust set of metrics results is aggregated, data will be carefully analyzed to determine if reasonable collective (e.g. statewide and/or regional) baselines can be generated for industry wide benchmarking and target-setting. Metric results will also be used to determine priorities and to drive educational programs.

Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing
In January 2010, CSWA introduced Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing (CCSW-Certified), a third-party certification option for California vineyards and wineries based on the Code Workbook. CSWA developed the third-party certification program to enhance transparency and credibility in the public policy and market arenas, and provide a way for vintners and growers to verify and communicate their continuous improvement in the adoption of sustainable practices. CCSW-Certified requires an accredited auditor to verify that the vineyard and/or winery conducts an annual self-assessment and meets 50 vineyard and 32 winery prerequisites.

As of October 2012, CSWA has given CCSW-Certification to 56 wineries and 178 vineyards (more than 12% of statewide winegrape acreage), and countless others have been certified by Bay Area Green Business, Biodynamic, Fish Friendly Farming, Lodi Rules, Napa Green, Organic and SIP-Certified. For a list of certified vineyards and wineries, see