Home Industry News Economics Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing Achieves Highest Level Equivalence in Global Sustainable Ag Benchmark

Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing Achieves Highest Level Equivalence in Global Sustainable Ag Benchmark

Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing — a third-party vineyard, winery and wine certification program administered by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA) is the first sustainable winegrowing certification to achieve Gold Level equivalence against the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform’s Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) version 3.0. FSA provides a globally recognized framework for sustainable agriculture certification and a consistent approach to demonstrate and validate alignment.

CSWA joins over 100 sustainability programs that have been benchmarked against the FSA. Only 20%, now including CSWA, have achieved Gold Level equivalence.

“Congratulations to the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance for achieving FSA Gold Level equivalence for Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing,” said Joe Iveson, FSA Manager at SAI Platform. “This is a great achievement that reflects a strong commitment to promoting sustainable winegrape growing and ensuring alignment with global best practices.”

The FSA was developed with experts from inside and outside of agriculture, including leading NGOs, universities, farmers and their representative groups. The benchmark was carried out by SureHarvest, an FSA-approved consultant that determined the Gold Level Equivalence based on rigorous analysis. Vineyards certified to Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing can also be recognized at FSA Gold Level Equivalent, and count towards any other FSA users’ sustainable sourcing targets.

The FSA includes a set of over 100 questions covering 11 sustainability topic areas: Farm Management and Community, Plant Material Selection and Propagation, Soil Management, Nutrient Management, Crop Protection, Waste Management, Water Management, Biodiversity, Air Quality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Labor Conditions and Integrated Pest Management. To achieve Gold Level equivalence, a program must address 100% of essential criteria, 100% of intermediate criteria and 75% or more of advanced criteria.

“CSWA uses internationally recognized best practices for sustainability certification and verification programs — such as the FSA — to develop and maintain a credible and meaningful program,” said Allison Jordan, CSWA executive director. “We’re proud to be the first winegrowing certification to achieve Gold Level Equivalence.”

Introduced in 2010, Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing provides annual third-party verification that a winery or vineyard has adopted and implemented stringent sustainable winegrowing practices based on the California Code of Sustainable Winegrowing and has committed to continuous improvement in those areas. In addition to implementing required practices that address the environmental and social responsibility aspects of sustainability, companies must determine the areas in which they need to improve and focus their resources to help meet their sustainability goals year after year. Currently, 80% of California wine is made in a Certified California Sustainable Winery and more than 2,500 vineyards, totaling 38% of the state’s winegrape acres, are certified sustainable.

CSWA is committed to alignment with international standards for sustainability certification programs. In 2017, Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing underwent an extensive oversight evaluation by SCS Global Services, a leader in third-party sustainability certification standards development. SCS Global Services confirmed that the program adheres to international best practices in certification including ISO/IEC Guide 59:1994, ISO/IEC 17065:2012 and ISEAL Credibility Principles. Benchmarking to FSA is another opportunity to demonstrate adherence to a global framework for sustainable agriculture.

  • Visit the Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing website or email CSWA to learn more about Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing.
  • To learn more about the FSA benchmarking and to access scoring for benchmarked schemes, see the FSA Benchmark Overview and FSA Benchmarking Results. About California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance  CSWA is a leader in promoting sustainable winegrowing practices within the California wine industry. Created by Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers in 2003, CSWA is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that implements the educational California Sustainable Winegrowing Program and administers Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing. CSWA provides the industry with a robust collection of sustainability resources that include the California Code of Sustainable Winegrowing, a workbook that enables growers and vintners to evaluate over 200 sustainable practices from grapes to glass against industry best practices and provides a clear path to integrating sustainable practices into their operations.

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