A new sustainability certification will make it easier for consumers to choose eco-friendly and ethically produced California wines. Photo by jimg994 via Flickr.
Guest blogger Cara Smusiak is a journalist and regular contributor to NaturallySavvy.com's Naturally Green section.
Finding sustainably produced California wine is about to get a whole lot easier.
Forbes.com reports that the Wine Institute is set to launch what it's calling the Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing Program -- a third-party certification program that will make it easier for consumers to buy sustainable wines. The terms? No pesticides, grow cover crops, reduce waste and energy use, provide all workers with health insurance, and be "mindful" of non-agricultural neighbors. It's taken nearly a decade to get the program up and running, but the introduction of sustainability certification is not unexpected given public interest in sustainably produced products, says Chris Savage, director of environmental affairs at Gallo Wines:
People do want to know that the products they purchase are grown and produced in some sort of sustainable fashion. Our expectation is it will become even more important in the future.
It has become enough of an issue that the growers responsible for about 62 percent of all wine produced in California have signed up for the program. Given that California is the fourth largest wine producing region in the world (behind Italy, France, and Spain), the certification is a big step forward. There are already similar programs in place in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, and both Oregon and Washington have programs to protect the environment.
Although winemakers will be able to advertise that they are certified sustainable under this new program, there's no label in the works at the moment -- so sustainability conscious consumers will have to do their homework before they shop.