In this edition, we feature information for growers on how take advantage of substantial financial and other resources available to get involved in achieving certified sustainability…
The Lake County Winegrowers & The California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance Offer Significant Support
Lake County, CA – As many of us know, our region is an industry leader when it comes to sustainability in the vineyard. As you also likely know, the Lake County Winegrowers are committed to the concept and have set ambitious goals to achieve it. While more than 70% of Lake County growers have participated in the Code of Sustainable Winegrape Practices Self-Assessment Workbook, the LCWC is supporting our growers to take the next step in Sustainable Winegrowing by obtaining third party certification. In the next two years we have set a goal of achieving 25% of our region’s vineyards to become Certified Sustainable with the primary goal of 80% by the end of 2015.
Additionally, we have implemented the Master Vigneron Program (MVP) that builds the capacity and increases advancement opportunities for vineyard workers in the industry. It also seeks to increase quality by improving knowledge, skills and performance. It is a significant investment in the human capital portion of the sustainability in the vineyard equation.
There may not be a better time than now to get your vineyard involved and move towards certified sustainable. The LCWC and the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA) have partnered to offer substantial incentives to you in order to defray the cost and time required as well as providing you with key resources to navigate the process confidently and effectively. “I am very excited,” said Paul Zellman, Education Director for the Lake County Winegrowers. “A primary focus of the LCWC board, at the moment, is supporting growers in becoming certified sustainable.”
If you are a smaller grower, fully 75% of the cost required to complete the certification process is being offset by the LCWC and CSWA through rebates and direct financial support (larger growers can also qualify for some benefits.) This opportunity will, likely, not last for too long. From an expenditure standpoint, this could save several hundred to a few thousand dollars. The connected costs primarily relate to the fees associated with the third party audit required to achieve certification. Growers are asked to assume just 25% of the total expenses incurred through the process.
Another significant component is time. Depending on the size of your vineyard and other factors, the time requirement to complete the process – from the initial application submittal to third party verification – is estimated at between 10.5 to 23.5 hours (though it could vary.) However, the LCWC is also providing assistance in this regard. “I am here to provide support to the growers throughout the process,” said Zellman.
“Part of my role is to assist and to coach – from assistance with the initial application, compiling needed information and preparation for the audit,” he continued.
All things considered, the opportunity to take advantage of both the financial assistance from the LCWC and the CSWA as well as receiving direct support from Paul Zellman, now is the time to get involved. With harvest almost upon us, we are preparing to ramp up later in the year, once the growing season is done. However, since resources are limited, if you are interested in participating while all of this support is still available, it is recommended that you get in touch now to hold your spot in the program. If you are interested, please contact Paul at email@example.com. For more on the sustainability program, visit our website.
In our next edition, we will discuss how some of the issues connected to participating and becoming certified sustainable is not only good for the environment, but is also a sound business decision. It can, potentially, reduce cost in the vineyard significantly, increase quality and better position your business for a changing marketplace with increased demands for certified sustainable wine. Stay tuned…