Earth Day is Monday, April 22. It’s a day where we focus on environmental issues our world faces. Conservation and sustainability are big buzz words around this time of year. And wineries are some of the organizations at the forefront. When you strip them down, they are farmers that are raising crops. In farming, to be more efficient and maximize your potential, you have to take care of the land and surrounding environment. I thought this would be a great time to introduce and discuss the way winemakers and wine grape growers continue to do this. 

One of the biggest things people look for with their food these days is “organic.” But what does “organic” actually mean? This is a huge definition that I am condensing for the purposes of this article. It means that food labeled organic was produced using organic methods like fertilizer made from plant or animal origin, pesticides that are of organic compounds or natural, as well as many other standards. Wineries employ these methods to progress as better stewards of their land. More and more we hear of wineries furthering their process by employing soil scientist to study the dirt in their vineyards so they don’t have to use pesticides or finding ways to use natural predators to keep certain insects out. They are moving forward every day.

Along with the USDA Certified logo on items, there are other certifications you can look for in wineries. One of the most difficult ones to get is the SIP Certification. It means “Sustainability in Progress.” It encompasses everything about a winery — from environmental practices and employee satisfaction to the actual pricing and quality of the wine. Think about it: if the wine isn’t good and it’s too expensive, then is it sustainable? If the employees aren’t happy with their jobs or compensation, is it sustainable? There are only two wineries in California that are 100 percent SIP Certified, that’s how difficult it is to maintain. They are Chamisal Vineyards and Niner Wine Estates. Wines can be SIP Certified as well. It means they are produced at 85 percent sustainability and are working toward being fully sustainable. Some of those that are readily available are: Stonestreet, Hahn, True Myth, Cambria, Robert Hall, and Presqu’ile. 

Another way for wineries to be more environmentally aware is by receiving the LEED Certification. It stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. This certification is a system where a winery provides third party verification that wineries (or any building or community) is built maximizing energy, water conservation, CO2 emission reductions, as well as over all environmental conservation in mind. They are operating at full efficiency while creating a minimal carbon foot print on the land. Among a few wineries are Frog’s Leap, Stoller, and Cade. There are a few breweries you might know as well: New Belgium and Sierra Nevada.

Every day this industry is taking giant steps toward a more sustainable future. Make sure to try some of these wines and beers to support their efforts. All you have to do for your part is to drink some great wine.