San Francisco, CA — The California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA) has created a third-party certification program for wineries that follow sustainable practices, and has also released its 2009 Wine Community Sustainability Report.

The CSWA's voluntary program, Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing, was developed over three years and is open to all wineries and vineyards in the state.

Hopefuls must meet 58 prerequisite criteria to be eligible for the program, assess their operations, create an annual action plan and put it into place, and show improvements.

As part of a pilot for the program 17 companies received certification for some or all of their operations. The companies are Clos LaChance Wines, Concannon Vineyard/Concannon Winery, Constellation Wines U.S., Cooper-Garrod Estate Vineyards, Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines, Fetzer Vineyards/Bonterra Vineyards, E. & J. Gallo Winery, Goldeneye Winery, The Hess Collection, Honig Vineyard & Winery, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, Kunde Family Estate, Meridian Vineyards/Taz Vineyards, Monterey Pacific Inc., Roberts Vineyard Services, Rodney Strong Wine Estates and Vino Farms.

The CSWA also provides a Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Practices Self-Assessment Workbook, and 1,566 vineyards and wineries in California have used it to evaluate their operations. Those companies represent 68.1 percent of the state's 526,000 wine acres and 62.5 percent of the state's 240 million case shipments.

The CSWA's also released its latest sustainability report, indicating that it has met or made significant progress on most of its goals set in 2004. The report also shows how the wine industry has fared in adopting the 227 best management practices in the CSWA's workbook. A majority of the practices implemented by companies over the past five years resulted in those companies receiving improved self-assessment scores on average, compared to 2004.

Areas that have opportunities to be improved, according to the report, include energy efficiency, materials handling, waste reduction and environmentally preferred purchasing. The next sustainability report will be released in 2014.

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