Wine Sector to Go Green to Avert Regulation
October 25, 2002
FRANCISCO - Under fire from environmentalists, California's
150-year-old wine industry will announce a green code of conduct
next week in a bid to head off potentially costly state regulation,
major trade groups said.
Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers
said they will announce a code of "sustainable" environmental
practices for the state's vintners, who produce more than 90
percent of the nation's wine.
who charge the wine industry with contributing to soil erosion,
watershed loss and pollution, contend the voluntary code may
not go far enough.
industry effort -- two years in the making and culminating in
a 360-page workbook -- addresses water, land and pesticide use.
It urges self-regulation by California grape growers and wine
maintain our standing as a world-class competitor in the global
marketplace, we believe it is better to avoid unnecessary legislation
by self-governance," the San Francisco-based Wine Institute
said in a statement.
industry in Sonoma County north of San Francisco has received
especially harsh criticism as vineyards have multiplied, replacing
orchards, farms and grazing lands.
Activists have also blamed vineyards for the loss of native
trees -- sacred objects to many in Northern California. The
region also is home to some of the U.S. wine industry's best
known and most productive grape-growing regions.
we want to maintain the name of Redwood Empire for this region,
or be known as the red wine empire?" said Toben Dilworth,
program manager of Town Hall Coalition, a community group in
Occidental, a Sonoma County town. "Redwoods are slowly
being carved away to make way for grapes."
LAND GETS SCARCE
De Luca, president of the Wine Institute, which represents about
600 wineries making 92 percent of California's wine, says the
reason for promoting environmentally friendly vineyard practices
can be summed up in one word: "Land."
not about to move the California wine industry to other states,"
De Luca said. "The overriding strategy is to make sure
that California wine is made from grapes grown in California."
will require growers to become reliable stewards by rethinking
how they use natural resources as the state's population grows,
and as consumers gradually equate so-called sustainable agriculture
with premium products, De Luca said.
California's wine industry needs to set itself apart from scores
of competitors worldwide, De Luca said. Environmental credentials
may be one way to do so, he said.
isn't what people are looking at," De Luca told Reuters.
"They're looking at quality, taste and value. The sustainability
program will permit us to be competitive in all these areas."
to Tom Meyer, global brand director for Fetzer Vineyards, owned
by Brown-Forman Corp., California's industry will be stronger
over the long run if it adopts green principles because they
produce better-tasting wines.
County-based Fetzer claims the world's largest organic vineyard,
established after Fetzer president Paul Dolan found grapes from
an organic garden tasted better than standard vineyard grapes,
according to the company.
has to be a way to protect the very health of our vines, which
are the very heart of our business," Meyer said.
are skeptical California's wine industry will change its ways
to the degree they want, especially in Sonoma County.
great the wine industry is improving practices to eliminate
problems of the past," said Town Hall Coalition's Dilworth.
"But the issue of rapid and permanent forest conversion
to vineyards is not in the plan, and that's our main concern."
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