Program Q&A

Program Q & A


Q: How are sustainable practices used in California vineyards and wineries?

A: Sustainable practices are used to produce quality grapes and wine while protecting the environment and enhancing relationships with employees and neighbors.

"The program gives winegrowers environmental goals to work toward while rewarding them with reduced costs and, potentially, reduced regulation as they move well beyond compliance."
-Ashley Boren, President, Sustainable Conservation

Each year, growers and vintners make hundreds of decisions while growing winegrapes and making wine. These decisions and the practices used in vineyards and wineries can impact natural resources, employees and communities, and the quality of the grapes and wine.

Sustainable winegrowing practices help reduce water and energy use, minimize pesticide use, build healthy soil, protect air and water quality, recycle natural resources, maintain surrounding wildlife habitat, provide employee education, and communicate with neighbors about vineyard and winery operations.


Q: How does the Sustainable Winegrowing Program work?

A: The program gives growers and vintners educational tools to increase adoption of sustainable practices and to measure and demonstrate ongoing improvement.

"The workbook, workshops and reports provide effective tools for businesses to improve their practices and make positive contributions to their communities; these efforts are truly ground breaking. They should be emulated."
-Victor Weisser, President, California Council for Environmental and Economic Balance

Building on major trends and successful regional efforts, the wine community joined together to create the Sustainable Winegrowing Program. A comprehensive workbook and educational workshops provide how-to information on sustainable winegrowing.

Participants self-assess their vineyards and wineries and voluntarily contribute data to measure adoption of sustainable practices. The statewide Sustainability Report documents results, identifies strengths and opportunities for improvement, and sets goals to increase use of sustainable practices. New workshops targeting the most challenging areas are underway, and follow-up reports will track ongoing progress. Partners from government, academia, and community and environmental groups contribute resources and expertise.


Q: How do sustainable practices benefit California?

A: Sustainable winegrowing conserves resources, enhances environmental quality, and contributes economically and socially to the state.

"The wine community is a leader in demonstrating farming's crucial role as a responsible steward of the environment... The program has tremendous potential to assist other agricultural sectors."
-A.G. Kawamura, Secretary, California Department of Food and Agriculture

California's booming population has increased competition for land, water, energy and other resources. By adopting sustainable practices, winegrowers can save time, money, and resources; enhance employee and neighbor relations; and continue to produce quality wines for generations to come. Communities enjoy a healthier environment and high quality of life. And consumers can enjoy wines that are produced responsibly.

Sustainable winegrowing benefits all of California, and has been recognized as a model by:


Q: Why is the California wine community committed to sustainability?

A: Wine is a signature product and key to the cultural and physical landscape of California. Dating back to the late 1700's, the wine community is intricately woven into the state's history and economic vitality.

  • 4,600 growers farm 543,000 acres of winegrapes in 46 of California's 58 counties, though vineyards cover less than one percent of the state's terrain
  • California's 3,540 wineries produce over 90 percent of U.S. wine
  • The wine industry contributes significantly to the state's economy through jobs, tourism and taxes.

Being good stewards of the land and good neighbors are important business and personal values in the wine community. Most owners and employees live at or near their wineries and vine yards and strive to maintain a healthy and beautiful environment for themselves, their neighbors and wine country visitors. They work to produce high quality grapes and wine using environmentally-friendly and socially responsible practices. These mainly family-owned businesses want to pass on their legacy to future generations.

Because of their connection to the environment and community, and their commitment to the future, winegrowers understand that decisions made now affect the long-term sustainability of their vineyards and wineries. The Sustainable Winegrowing Program grew out of this tradition.