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Growing adoption of sustainable practices in vineyards

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New report issued by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance.

The 2020 California Wine Community Sustainability Report released recently by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA) shows broad participation in its educational and certification programs, and wide implementation of sustainable practices in vineyards and wineries around the state.   

“California is the world’s fourth largest wine producer, amplifying the importance and impact of the industry’s high level of adoption of sustainable practices, as demonstrated by data included in the report,” said Allison Jordan, CSWA Executive Director. “These practices improve resource efficiency and wine quality, reduce risks and, in many cases, reduce costs, while contributing to a healthier environment, stronger communities and vibrant businesses.”   

In addition to providing programmatic updates, the 2020 report provides aggregated data on 144 vineyard and 105 winery best practices that are included in the comprehensive California Code of Sustainable Winegrowing (Code). First published in 2002 and now in its 4th edition, the Code is a tool for Sustainable Winegrowing Program (SWP) participants to measure their level of sustainability and to learn about ways they can improve their practices. Since 2010, the Code is also central to Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing, CSWA’s third-party certification program. 

Report highlights

  • Improvements in 76% of vineyard criteria and 85% of winery criteria in the Code from the period of 2016-2020 as compared to the 2015 Report; 
  • A 35% increase in the number of vineyards (45% increase in acres) and a 60% increase in the number of wineries (58% increase in wine cases produced) that have used the Code to assess their sustainability since 2016; 
  • 2,247 vineyards that farm 32% of California acreage and 171 wineries that produce 80% of California wine achieved certification to Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing – a 419% increase in the number of vineyards and an 88% increase in the number of wineries certified since the last report; 
  • Over 660 workshops hosted for more than 16,800 participants since the Sustainable Winegrowing Program’s inception in 2002, including the first U.S. Sustainable Winegrowing Summit.

California vineyard data

The 2020 report shows that 2,300 vineyards representing 262,000 winegrape acres used the 3rd edition Code to evaluate and improve their practices since 2016. The data show that a majority have adopted sustainable practices for water and energy efficiency, pest management and soil health, among other areas, as detailed below: 

  • Water Efficiency: 82% of growers used micro-irrigation systems to target irrigation, optimize water use and conservation. 
  • Energy Efficiency: 90% of growers reduced energy use through water pump improvements, the largest energy saving opportunity in the vineyard. 
  • Pest Management: 83% of growers used cultural practices to naturally manage pests, reducing need for pesticides. 
  • Soil Health: 99% of growers used resident vegetation, cover crops and/or compost.


The 2020 report shows that 230 wineries that produce 262 million cases used the 3rd edition Code to evaluate and improve their practices since 2016.  A majority are adopting sustainability practices for energy, water and their overall business, among other areas.  

  • Energy Efficiency: 86% of vintners conducted an energy audit of their winery within the last five years to save energy and costs. 
  • Water Efficiency: 90% of vintners measured and monitored water use to manage it responsibly. 
  • Sustainable Business Strategy: 91% of vintners integrated sustainability into their business strategy.  

California community data

The livelihood of California vintners and growers depends upon the health of the environment and local communities. The 2020 report shows that a vast majority of the state’s vintners and growers are taking action to protect wildlife, positively contributing to their communities and encouraging employees to become engaged in enhancing sustainability.  

  • Employees: 89% of vintners encouraged employees to provide suggestions for improving operational efficiency to enhance sustainability. 
  • Neighbors: 99% of growers provided neighbors with contact information and responded to community concerns. 
  • Wildlife: 91% of growers allowed growth of resident or native vegetation to protect local water bodies and positively impact surrounding community. 
  • Contribution: 94% of vintners volunteered or provided other contributions to enhance their local community.

In addition to the examples listed above, the 2020 report includes data on levels of adoption for all 200 Code Practices. View the 2020 California Wine Community Sustainability Report here.  

Source: California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, Wine Institute, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset. 
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