Standing for “Sustainability in Practice,” the new winery certification examines several winery operation factors, including energy efficiency, water use, glass and paper recycling, social equity and financial sustainability.
“This certification takes our sustainability to the next level,” Molly Bohlman, Niner’s pinot noir and chardonnay winemaker, wrote on the winery’s blog.
All three of Niner’s vineyards — 212 acres in Paso Robles and Edna Valley — have been SIP Certified since last year, as have its wines. The estate also features solar panels that provide all the energy for its tasting room, restaurant, LEED-certified winery and water-reclamation system.
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The certification goes beyond infrastructure to include systems and practices to protect employees and create a good work environment, Bohlman said.
“All of these things are important to the Niner family, and SIP Certification is a way to demonstrate that to our customers,” she said.
The application, Bohlman noted, involved “months of gathering data, fine-tuning our practices and documenting everything from daily water usage to how we clean our tanks and barrels to our noise output during bottling.”
The SIP Certification program began with 3,700 acres in 2008 and now provides independent, third-party verification of sustainable practices for 40,000 vineyard acres around the state and 2 million cases of wine from 30 brands being sold internationally.
The organization developed the winery standards — with more than 70 requirements in 10 areas — over four years with a committee of stakeholders. It launched a pilot program earlier this year.
“Expanding SIP to the winery level was the logical next step for this growing program,” according to SIP Certified program materials. “It is a way for consumers to know they are buying sustainable wines that give back to the land and community on every level.”
Four other San Luis Obispo County wineries are among seven highlighted for their sustainable farming practices in the August/September issue of The SOMM Journal, a publication aimed at the hospitality industry.
The article — proclaiming that the “common thread running through the most prestigious vineyards” on the Central Coast is SIP-Certified practices — details farming approaches and the resulting wines at Ancient Peaks in Santa Margarita, Halter Ranch in Paso Robles and Chamisal Vineyards and Niven Family Wines in Edna Valley.
“Unquestionably, sustainable grape growing results in grapes that are not just more expressive in fruit character, but also with stronger sense of place,” Mike Sinor, Ancient Peaks’ director of winemaking operations, says in the article.
Sustainability is as much about good business sense as being good for the environment, he continued.
“That’s the entire purpose of sustainability — to make a long-lasting impact on your environment and quality of your product, to the benefit of your employees and long term success of your business,” he said.
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