Since 2002 when the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance first unveiled its program, the self-assessment workbook has been one of the program's cornerstones.
Although the workbook was revised in 2006, it was due up for a major overhaul to reflect changes in both cultural and winemaking practices that have occurred during the past 10 years, says Lisa Francioni alliance program manager.
For example, one of the original questions asked whether participants used a flow meter to measure water use.
But it never addressed the other devices that growers used.
So the revised question asks whether participants use a device to measure water use.
The original program, which was developed by a committee of growers and winery representatives, was geared toward education.
So far, growers representing 70 percent of the state’s winegrape acreage and wineries representing 65 percent of the wine-case production have taken the self-assessment she says.
What many participants of the self-assessment found was they were doing a lot of the so-called sustainable practices already, Francioni says.
They just hadn’t documented them.
Retailers drive certification need
More recently, retailers have spurred a need for a third-party certification program. “It’s being driven by market forces,” she says. “They say, ‘You’re saying you’re doing all of this. Now can you prove it?’”
In anticipation of the certification program, a subcommittee comprising growers and winery representatives about two years ago began reviewing and updating each of the workbook’s 14 chapters.
The workbook, known officially as the Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Practices Self-Assessment Workbook, contains 227 questions that gauge the adoption of practices considered sustainable.
Users rank themselves on a scale of 1 to 4.
For example, one question asks about monitoring vineyards for mites and insects.
The participant is given four choices:
1. I or my PCA monitors my vineyard at least weekly for insect and mite pests. And I keep a written or electronic record of results. And I and/or my PCA use this information for management decisions.
2. I or my PCA monitors my vineyard at least weekly for insect and mite pests. And I and/or my PCA use this information for management decisions.
3. I or my PCA monitors my vineyard periodically for insect and mite pests.
4. My vineyard is rarely or never monitored for insect and mite pests.