About California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance

Wine Institute California Association of Winegrape Growers

CSWA will ensure that the California wine community is recognized as a change leader in the global marketplace. CSWA will aggressively develop partnerships for funding education and outreach to advance the understanding and adoption of sustainable practices.

The result of this work will be a healthier environment, stronger communities, and vibrant businesses."

The California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA) is a San Francisco-based 501(c)3 nonprofit organization incorporated in 2003 created by Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers to promote the benefits of sustainable winegrowing practices, enlist industry commitment and assist in implementation of the Sustainable Winegrowing Program.

A Partnership Between California Vintners and Winegrape Growers

The Sustainable Winegrowing Program was initiated in January 2001 by winegrowing members of Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) to promote vineyard and winery practices that are sensitive to the environment, responsive to the needs and interests of society-at-large, and economically feasible to implement and maintain. Wine Institute is a public policy advocacy group, representing more than 975 California wineries and affiliated businesses responsible for 85 percent of the nation's wine production. CAWG is a public policy advocacy group of winegrape growers, representing more than 60 percent of the total annual grape crush. Together they developed the Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Practices workbook as the basis for the Sustainable Winegrowing Program, providing a tool for vintners and growers to assess their practices and learn how to improve their overall sustainability. Wine Institute and CAWG formed the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance to assist in program implementation. These organizations will continue to work together to promote sustainable winegrowing practices that benefit the environment, the community and high quality grapes and wine.

A Proactive Approach to Sustainability

As the State's population explodes and urban areas encroach on traditionally rural farmland, the California wine community is taking a proactive, precautionary approach to address increasing pressure resulting from public and legislative perceptions, environmental decisions from regulatory and governmental bodies, and other growth-related issues. By adopting and implementing the Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Practices, members of the California wine community can greatly augment their collective and individual ability to respond to these pressures while demonstrating that they are responsible neighbors and committed stewards of the land.

A Vintner and Grower Driven Program

Participants at an Ecosystem Management action plan workshop in Madera

A prominent feature of the Sustainable Winegrowing Program is the active participation of vintners and growers throughout all phases and a continued focus on partnerships. In addition to the workbook, another major component of the program is targeted educational events that rely heavily on peer-to-peer education. To learn more about the variety of topics covered in these events, such as integrated pest management and energy efficiency, click here. Another important part of the program is the ability to measure and demonstrate ongoing improvement in the adoption of sustainable practices. The California Wine Community Sustainability Report 2004 is the first time an entire industry has used a common assessment tool to publicly report on the adoption of sustainable practices.

The SWP program builds on the impressive work in sustainable practices by many regional winegrowing and vintner associations, private companies, individual viticulturists and winemakers, researchers, government agencies, and innovative regulators involved in the California wine community.

Overall leadership and guidance for the Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Practices workbook was provided by a committee from Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers known as the Sustainable Winegrowing Joint Committee. This committee includes more than 50 members of Wine Institute and CAWG that represent all major winegrowing regions and small, medium and large vineyard and winery enterprises as well as representatives from the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) and independent consultants. The participation of government officials, academics, non-governmental organizations (NGO) and community representatives further ensures the integrity and positive outcomes of the program.

The Sustainable Winegrowing Program is wine community member-driven, and the Joint Committee and CSWA board members play a key role in defining the program and ensuring its success. Among the board members are John Aguirre, President of CAWG, Bobby Koch, President of Wine Institute, and twelve winegrowers representing both vineyards and wineries. To view a full list of the board members click here. In addition, CSWA continues to utilize the expertise of various consultants for the program, including former Acting Executive Director Dr. Jeff Dlott of SureHarvest.

To learn more about CSWA Staff and Consultants click here.

CSWA received the state's top environmental award, the Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA) in 2004. For more information on CSWA awards and grants click here.