Sustainable WA. Eastside Business Journal

Sustainable WA program will begin certifying state’s wine grapes this summer


The Washington wine industry powered by Sustainable WA and the Washington State Wine Commission, has launched the state’s first statewide certified sustainability program for wine grapes, signifying a commitment to quality fruit, environmental stewardship, and healthy communities. Sustainable WA will begin certifying vineyards this summer.

“From pest and disease management to sustainable water management, prioritizing worker health and safety and tracking various inputs, this program is environmentally sound, socially equitable, and economically viable,” said Sustainable WA Program Manager, Katlyn Slone.

Sustainable WA is the first certified sustainability program built specifically for Washington vineyards. To achieve certification, growers must commit to sustainable viticultural practices and pass a third-party audit to ensure operations meet established standards. After initial certification, Sustainable WA vineyards require an audit every three years during which continual improvement must be shown.

“Sustainable WA is built on the tenet that sustainability is a journey and is dedicated to ongoing evaluation and continual improvement,” Slone said. “It takes a rigorous and balanced look at all pillars of sustainability without leaning too heavily on one. Balance is the priority.”

The program offers certification for vineyards with plans to add certification for wineries in the future. Wineries may utilize the Sustainable WA logo on wine labels to signify the wine is made with certified grapes.

“Data shows the demand for sustainable products to be high,” said Steve Warner, President of the Washington State Wine Commission. “This program is imperative for the future of Washington wine not only to ensure healthy, productive vineyards and wineries for generations to come, but also to remain relevant in the global marketplace.”

Sustainable WA is two decades in the making. The Washington wine industry created an educational sustainability program called Vinewise\Winerywise over 20 years ago, to be intentionally scalable for certification. In 2019, an industry committee made up of 40+ Washington growers, vintners, and marketing professionals built upon the existing program to create Sustainable WA alongside leading sustainability consultant SureHarvest. This year, a small group of volunteer growers participated in a Beta test to provide feedback before full launch.

“Sustainability is part of our culture and our nature. It’s remarkable witnessing the past 20 years from educational tools to a statewide program,” said Vicky Scharlau, Executive Director of Washington Winegrowers. “Sustainable WA was built entirely for this industry and by this industry. We are excited for the full launch this summer.”

Sustainable WA is a collaboration between the Washington Winegrowers, the Washington State Wine Commission, the Washington Wine Industry Foundation, and the Washington Wine Institute. 

About Washington Winegrowers: The Washington Winegrowers Association (Winegrowers) serves as the synergistic leader and unifying voice – through advocacy and education – for growers, vintners, partners, and policymakers. To learn more, visit www.wawinegrowers.org.

About the Washington State Wine Commission:
The Washington State Wine Commission (WSWC) represents every licensed winery and wine grape grower in Washington State. Guided by an appointed board, WSWC provides a marketing platform to raise positive awareness about the Washington wine industry and generate greater demand for its wines. Funded almost entirely by the industry through assessments based on grape and wine sales, WSWC is a state government agency, established by the legislature in 1987. To learn more, visit www.washingtonwine.org.

About the Washington Wine Industry Foundation: The Washington Wine Industry Foundation (Foundation) brings together partners and facilitates funding to craft sustainable solutions to our industry’s challenges. To learn more, visit www.washingtonwinefoundation.org.

About the Washington Wine Institute: The Washington Wine Institute is the vocal, active, visible advocate and champion of the Washington wine industry in Olympia and Washington D.C. To learn more, visit www.wwi.wine.

By Zen Chi

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