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Green Winery Practices

by Staff Writer - C. Barnett | March 04, 2012

The definition for what makes a Green Winery is very unsettled as the rules vary from state to state and from agency to agency. There are many approaches to a Green Winery and the process can be achieved through the use of environmentally and economically thorough production practices.

One of the most popular definable approaches to a Green Winery is called 'Sustainable'. The term Sustainable covers everything from agricultural practices and energy used to packaging and transportation of the finished product. Sustainable Agriculture attempts to minimize environmental impacts and ensure economic feasibility. Sustainable Agricultural means maintaining ecological balance, using natural resources without destroying the ecological balance of a vineyard or an area. A Green Winery that is Sustainable means that the product has been made in such a manner that it will allow the vineyards and environment to continue to produce an undiminished product for future generations.

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A Green Winery that is Sustainable and produces wine should not be confused with "organic wine". Basically the term "organic" applies to grapes grown without chemicals and pesticides. Some growers apply fertilizer, pesticides and weed killers to their vineyards to manage the grape vines. The fermentation process emits large doses of carbon dioxide which can add to global warming. Many of the growing and production practices used in making wine are things that can affect the soil and climactic conditions needed for growing good wine grapes. Growing grapes can take up acres and acres of land and have an impact on local resources and affect local wildlife. Producing and shipping wine produces carbon dioxide and other emissions, which can contribute to global warming. The heavy glass bottles that are shipped by air, by land and by sea and the trucks, tractors and other diesel-burning heavy machinery that wineries use to haul grapes and wine around can also add pollution to the environment. A Green Winery strives to reduce its reliance on machinery and attempts to use lighter weight bottles.

One issue associated with maintaining a Green Winery is that Sustainable winemaking lacks national regulations, certifications, and labeling for wineries and vineyards. Sustainable viticulture (the cultivation of grapes) is maintained purely through the integrity of each winery. The California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA) has developed a third-party certification program related to the California Sustainable Winegrowing Program (SWP) to increase the sustainability of the California wine industry by promoting the adoption of sustainable Green Winery practices and maintaining continued improvement.

A program that has been established to help wineries create and develop a Green Winery is The Sustainable Winegrowing Program. The Sustainable Winegrowing Program gives grape growers and wine makers educational tools to increase adoption of sustainable practices and tools to measure their improvement processes. It helps wine makers establish eco-friendly practices from the agricultural aspect to the finished wine product by developing guidelines and training to promote alternative energy, ecosystem management, composting, recycling and water conservation. "The Sustainable Winegrowing Program was initiated in January 2001 by winegrowing members of Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) to promote vineyard and winery practices that are sensitive to the environment, responsive to the needs and interests of society-at-large, and economically feasible to implement and maintain. Wine Institute is a public policy advocacy group, representing more than 975 California wineries and affiliated businesses responsible for 85 percent of the nation's wine production." (

Another way that wine makers in North American are aiming to be a Green Winery is through constructing their new facilities to standards set by the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council in 1998, the voluntary LEED certification is an international benchmark for buildings that are environmentally friendly and healthful places in which to work and/or live.

A Green Winery that is Sustainable also means that is must sustain its business to stay in business. The practices of maintaining a Green Winery are becoming more well-known and widespread than in years past. There are programs to assist wineries in this venture as they work toward their common goal of becoming a Green Winery.

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