Moving forward we will feature numerous stories on sustainability in the vineyard ranging from the process and programs to the people who make it happen and discussions of their experiences with implementation. Got a story? Let us know…In this edition, we will feature an interview with Lisa Francioni, Program Manager for the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance…More User-Friendly Changes Coming to the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance ProcessThe California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA) is making some substantial changes to their certification program. The idea is to streamline the methods used by eliminating redundancy and making it simpler and clearer to use on an ongoing basis. “We are in the process of revising our self-assessment workbook and should have our 3rd edition out after this year’s harvest,” said Francioni.
The self-assessment workbook is a key tool in the process that facilitates growers’ ability to get an idea of where they are on the road to certified sustainable status, how to improve and how to be ready when they are ready to take the step of a third-party audit required for verification. “We are cleaning up some of the vagaries that were present, eliminating duplication and making it easier to plan moving forward by being more specific,” she continued.
“We want to encourage growers to use the self-assessment workbook to get a good idea of where they are in the process and how they can achieve certification before getting started with the third party audit phase,” she said.
CSWA is also working on improving the messaging connected to sustainability and building a better case for participation. Of course, ideas such as “being a good neighbor” and “social responsibility” are very important. But, they are working to show more of the business side of sustainability, utilizing case studies and other tools to demonstrate that it is good for the ecosystem as well as the bottom line.
“Sustainability allows growers to stay ahead of the game,” said Francioni. “It’s about access to market – more and more ‘small guys,’ not just the big retailers and wineries, are requiring this from their suppliers.”
This is relevant up and down the supply chain in the wine industry. It can also be about running a more efficient and cost-effective vineyard creating a serious upside from the business perspective. “It’s an ongoing process, where constant improvement is sought from year-to-year,” said Francioni.
The idea is that the sustainability process will continually find and realize efficiencies for the grower and vineyard. Part of the result of this, ideally, would be lowered expenses, a more efficient use of resources and a cost-effective operation.
A prime topic for CSWA is to make stronger connections between sustainability and quality in the vineyard. According to Francioni, it’s mostly based on anecdotal observations, to this point. But, these have a led to a firm belief that it is the case. Utilizing enhanced case studies and getting feedback from growers and wineries are part of the effort to learn more.
Get involved – are you interested in participating? The Lake County Winegrape Commission and the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance have resources of which you can take advantage. These include rebates and support or “coaching” through the process, these can greatly reduce the cost and time involved in becoming certified. If you are interested, please contact Paul Zellman, LCWC Education Coordinator, at email@example.com, for more information. The plan is to begin after this year’s harvest.
Watch for our next issue coming soon…