Grassroots Change In BC Wine Industry
Grassroots Change in BC Wine Industry
Sustainable Winegrowing British Columbia (SWBC) is the key sustainability project of BC Wine Grape Council. SWBC is launching a new certification program in 2020, to assist growers and winemakers with enhancing soil health and wine quality, and meet increasing customer demand for wines made with verified conscientious, sustainable practices. The program is founded on a people, planet, profit (triple bottom line) approach.
Since 2011, SWBC has provided sustainability self-assessments to the Okanagan wine industry, hosting workshops to share knowledge with industry professionals about sustainability practices. In 2018, the Ministry of Agriculture along with BC Wine Grape Council allocated funding to transition the online self-assessment program into a verified sustainability certification program.
At its foundation the program is based on world class, outcome-based sustainability standards. The standards clearly outline the outcomes we aim to achieve, some of which have key associated indicators. This helps to avoid marketplace skepticism about “greenwashing,” and to support growers and winemakers in British Columbia to become true sustainability leaders by backing their sustainability claims with data. This data will also assist program participants with making adjustments, adapting and taking action based on real dynamic information.
The Standards are organized by goal areas. In the vineyard, outcomes and activities are defined for:
- Watershed Management and Conservation
- Soil Nutrition Management
- Integrated Pest Management
- Irrigation Optimization
- Social Equity - Workforce, Neighbours and Community
For wineries, outcomes and activities are defined for:
- Water Efficiency and Conservation
- Energy Efficiency and Management
- Responsible Waste Management
- Climate Action
- Social Equity- Workforce, Neighbours and Community
With the 2019 sustainability standards in hand, SWBC is launching the Sustainability Certification Program in April, 2020. The new sustainability certification, based on the 2019 standards, is a more rigorous process, focussed on implementation, education and community-building within the wine industry. The previous online sustainability self-assessment will be retired.
Many dedicated people contributed to the development of SWBC’s updates sustainability standards: the volunteer SWBC Sustainability Committee Members, Anna Brittain of ViewCraft Consulting, and Tom Divney and Catalina Mora of the Sustainable Agricultural Network. This project would not be possible without the support and funding from the BC Wine Grape Council and the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture.
If you would like to learn more as SWBC rolls out our sustainability certification program in 2020, please sign up for our email newsletter below.