Trialling Sustainability Certification

Trialling Sustainability Certification


PHOTO: Tightrope Winery owner Graham O’Rourke (above) and Le Vieux Pin winemaker Severine Pinte (below) trialed the new Sustainability Certification Program.

After years of learning and planning, we are excited to launch our new Sustainability Certification program for wineries and vineyards on April 1, 2020!

The new certification program is based on up-to-date standards developed and piloted in 2019. The SWBC directors were excited to see how the new guidelines would play out in real wine businesses, and principals from Tightrope, Red Rooster, Quails’ Gate and Le Vieux Pin volunteered to be pilot participants for the anticipated sustainability certification program.

Together with Tom Divney, Technical Director of Sustainable Agriculture Network and 30 year veteran to the certification industy, SWBC Program manager Katie Pease toured each winery’s field and cellar operations, assessing operations through the lens of the new sustainability standards. They were inspired by the diversity of sustainability approaches. “The solutions reflected the size and history of each winery,” Katie said. “With the new certification guidelines, there isn’t just one option - each business is innovating to work on water conservation, soil health, biodiversity and other challenges in ways that make sense for them.”

Tightrope Winery owner Graham O’Rourke was one of the SWBC directors that trialed the new certification program. Tightrope’s vineyard management employs new technology, such as drones with remote sensing to measure canopy vigour, to plan irrigation, spread compost and even managed picking times. These measures are all meant to improve vineyard health, conserve water, and reduce spraying.

Graham thinks that the new innovative sustainability program raises the bar above organic certification, because it encompasses a systems approach and includes social responsibility as well as economic and ecological. “Everything sustainable we do in the vineyard is for the wine and the vines; it’s not about having a pretty vineyard. It’s about leaving the land and farm better off for my kids.”

With the new sustainability standards in place, Sustainable Winegrowing BC is developing the process for vineyards and wineries to become certified. The certification program will launch April 1, 2020.

“Over the course of the four sustainability certification trials, we really felt the spirit of innovation and cooperation in the Okanagan valley,” commented Katie. “As we design the certification process for next year’s launch, we want to incorporate the sharing and learning we experienced in the trials.”

To keep up with the development of the SWBC sustainability certification program, be sure to subscribe to SWBC’s newsletter.