Have you considered having your grape growing operation sustainably certified? I recently had a conversation with Beth Vukmanic from the Vineyard Team on the impact and importance of sustainability certification programs for vineyards. Beth spent 12 years overseeing the Vineyard Team’s Sustainability in Practice (SIP) certification program and now serves as the executive director of the Vineyard Team.
As it turns out, there are many benefits to having a SIP certification. These benefits range from having a positive environmental impact, access to different storefronts, better marketability, and increased financial benefits. The sustainability program has certified 47,000 vineyard acres, primarily in California but also in Oregon and Michigan as well as five wineries. Over 60 million bottles of wine have been produced in compliance with sustainability standards.
Read on to learn more about SIP and how it’s benefiting vineyards on the West Coast and beyond.
What is SIP?
Sustainability means meeting present needs while ensuring that future generations can do the same. The Sustainability In Practice (SIP) certification program is a third-party verified system focusing on all viticulture farming aspects. This includes habitat conservation, soil quality, social equity, and business sustainability. Being a member of the SIP program can help individuals improve their farming practices in their vineyard – and third-party verification lends credibility in the marketplace.
How SIP Began
The Vineyard Team initiated the sustainability program in 1996, beginning with end-of-day checklists and growers receiving a grade for their efforts. Over time, people learned from this process and made improvements. Building on the original self-assessment test, specific and measurable standards were developed and sent for peer review by experts at the Environmental Protection Agency. In 2008, the SIP vineyard program was launched, and in 2016, a winery component was added to address grape processing facilities. Any wine that includes at least 85% certified fruit, whether they are state-grown or purchased, can display the program’s logo on the label after completing a chain of custody audit.
The Impact of a Sustainability Program on a Winery
Having a sustainably certified product makes it more marketable. According to a Morning Consultant Report, over 80% of consumers consider sustainability important in the food and beverage industry. Furthermore, a Penn State study revealed that educated consumers were willing to pay an additional $1 to $4 per bottle for sustainable products. Obtaining a sustainability certification such as SIP can provide opportunities to target eco-focused restaurants and stores, further expanding market reach.
If you want to learn more about certification programs for vineyards, check out https://www.vineyardundergroundpodcast.com/vu034.