|In this edition, we feature how sustainability is not only good for the environment, it’s good for your pocketbook…Sustainability in the Vineyard Is Good… For The Bottom Line Lake County, CA– In our two previous editions, we’ve discussed the process for getting involved with the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance’s (CSWA) certification process as well as highlighting some of the rebates and assistance currently available to growers to help defray the cost and time required to achieve it. We also know that sustainability in the vineyard is good for altruistic reasons – being a good neighbor and steward of the ecosystem. However, it’s beneficial for another reason: it’s good for your bottom line.
For example, some of the metrics used to measure the performance of a vineyard and work towards sustainability include water use, energy use and nitrogen use. The program seeks to develop a method for quantifying and utilizing these inputs and make their use more efficient – typically meaning consuming less. This reduces direct costs and saves growers money. Overall, the idea is to run a more effective vineyard. By doing so, efficiency is increased, the burden on the environment – both locally (nitrogen) and in a broader sense (energy, water) – is lessened, and expenses associated with these are lowered.
“Sustainability allows growers to run a leaner, meaner vineyard,” said Paul Zellman, Education Director for the Lake County Winegrowers. “It’s a cost-effective approach to vineyard management.”
The benefits to the bottom line do not end there. The consumer market for wine is changing. Preferences for sustainably grown products are on the rise. As a result, more and more retailers are requiring sustainability in the supply chain moving forward. For wine, this starts in the vineyard and ends in the bottle.
“Some of the bigger guys, such as Costco and Walmart, have begun to require this. It has had an effect on companies such as Constellation and Gallo that now want their growers to become certified,” said Zellman. “It is trickling down the supply chain and to other wine producers. Being certified prepares growers for this future.”
Sustainability does not just refer to the ecological aspects. It also refers to running a sustainable business and that means running a better, more profitable business – lowering inputs, reducing costs and being more competitive in a changing marketplace. By participating in the Sustainable Winegrowing Program and becoming certified, growers are giving themselves competitive advantages that are becoming more and more critical in the business arena, not just the environmental one.
CSWA and the Lake County Winegrape Commission (LCWC) are committed to increasing participation in the program and spreading these wide-reaching benefits to growers. The LCWC is also committed to making Lake County a leader in sustainability.
News Flash – The 3rd Edition of the Sustainable Winegrowing Practices Workbook is slated for release and implementation beginning on December 1st. This new version is streamlined, easier to use and reduces redundancy. It’s designed to be more user-friendly and leads to a clearer process for becoming Certified Sustainable. The LCWC’s Sustainable Winegrowing Program will be utilizing this new tool and is already preparing for its use.