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my wine journey

Sustainable Winegrowing in California

Wrote about the seminar organized by California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance and SF Wine School that I attended the other day, for a Bay Area local media, Bayspo/Logstar. English version is below.



Sustainable winegrowing in California

The other day, I participated in a seminar held by the director of the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA), a non-profit organization promoting sustainable winegrowing. The group was founded in 2003 with the aim of making California's viticulture and winemaking sustainable over the long term. One way in which it does this is through the certification of wines that are in line with its standards.

CSWA's core principles are to be environmentally sound, socially equitable, and economically viable.

While parts of this concept of being "sustainable" relate to both organic and biodynamic farming methods, the actual scope is much broader and relates to the whole environment surrounding winemaking - everything from grape growing to wine bottling. Examples of this include the use of resources such as water and energy, restrictions on the use of chemical herbicides and pesticides, and consideration for the community, including employees and neighbors.

In order to meet these standards, viticulture and winemaking require more precise, labor-intensive and time-consuming practices. This should result in producing better quality grapes and wine.

Although the certification is by a local body, it is a widespread one in California; as of April 2019, 84% of Californian wine has received certification from the CSWA.

The movement toward such sustainable winegrowing practices is happening throughout the world's wine-producing regions and is on the increase. Of course, there is a growing consciousness among producers to make wines while taking into consideration factors like the environment and human health. At the same time, consumers, especially those of the younger generation, are showing increasing interest in not only the taste of a wine but also in the way it was produced.

The seminar was followed by a tasting of certified wines and a discussion led by winemakers from those wineries.

The wines we tasted were: Domaine Carneros, famous for sparkling wines; Cakebread and Francis Ford Coppola from Napa's long-established wineries; Spottswoode's excellent Cabernet-based wines; Livermore's Murrieta; Sonoma's Brewer-Clifton; Mendocino's Bonterra; and Paso Robles' Tablas Creek.

These wineries are all CSWA certified and some of them, like Spottswoode and Tablas Creek, also make wine from USDA certified grapes. Certified wines display a symbol on the back label of their bottles.

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