The regions wine growers are committed to 100% sustainability by 2019

The region's wine growers are committed to 100% sustainability by 2019

Wine producers in California's Sonoma County have committed to becoming the US' first 100% sustainable wine region within the next five years. 

Trade body Sonoma County Winegrowers (SCW) said yesterday (15 January) that its 1,800 members have signed-up to the environmental pledge through a “three-phased” programme. Many of the region's winemakers have used sustainable farming practices for “decades”, but the new initiative means all the region's vineyards and wineries will become sustainable, the SCW said. 

During the programme's first phase winegrowers will be given training sessions on 200 best management practices such as land use, canopy management, energy efficiency, water quality assessments and carbon emissions. 

For the second phase, the SCW will work with vineyards owners to achieve environmental certification, with a goal for all growers to be certified by 2019. 

To avoid 'greenwashing', the SCW said, third-party verification and certification programs will be used, such as the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance's Code of Sustainability. 

Sonoma County's 450 wineries have a total of 60,000 acres of vineyards, with the region boasting 16 unique American Viticultural Areas (AVAs).

“The key of sustainability is continuous improvement,” the trade body said. “Once all of the county’s vineyards and wineries are recognised as sustainable, improvement plans will be developed to provide access to new production models, techniques and approaches.” 

Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture said: “I commend the growers and wineries of Sonoma County for pursuing this bold initiative...it is a unique branding proposition and I wish them great success.”

Producers in the region must now list both the region and sub-region (AVA) on bottle labels after a three-year grace period over a law expired earlier this month