Rainbow

A rainbow frames Silver Oak Cellars winery in Napa Valley's Oakville winegrowing region on Jan. 5, 2017. (SILVER OAK CELLARS / FACEBOOK)

Barrels

Workers fill American oak barrels at Silver Oak Cellars winery in Napa Valley's Oakville winegrowing region. (SILVER OAK CELLARS / FACEBOOK)

Napa Green certification: What’s it take for a winery or vineyard to get it?

How much it will cost a grower or vintner to obtain Napa Green certification of sustainability practices depends on the program and certifier.

“The direct costs are minimal,” said Nate Weis, director of winemaking for Silver Oak and Twomey, which have production facilities and vineyards in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties. “But the indirect costs, depending on what is already implemented, can be significant.”

The Duncan family is behind the iconic Silver Oak and Twomey wine brands. The organization has pursued third-party sustainability certification of its holdings through several groups, both known in the wine and construction businesses as well as not yet front of mind for many.

More than a dozen and a half Duncan family sites in those three counties were certified by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance over a number of months. And its Napa Valley facilities also were certified last year under U.S. Green Building Council and Napa Green Winery programs.

After a two-year process, the Silver Oak Cellars main winery in the Oakville area of central Napa Valley last summer was certified at the highest level — platinum — under the council’s Existing Buildings: Operation and Maintenance designation that’s part of the Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) rating system. That certification helped with the Napa Green Winery certification, Weis said.

“We had already done quite a bit to get ourselves up to snuff there,” he said.

Silver Oak’s winery in the Jimtown community of Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley is being outfitted to meet platinum-level LEED standards as the facility is readied for occupancy this summer. Elements of the Living Building Challenge certification by the Seattle-based International Living Building Institute also are being implemented.

PATHWAYS TO NAPA GREEN

For the Napa Green Land program for vineyards, the two avenues to certification are the Fish Friendly Farming program (fishfriendlyfarming.org) offered by the Napa-based California Land Stewardship Institute and level 2 of the LandSmart program (landsmart.org/vineyard) via the Napa Resource Conservation District. The LandSmart option was added last June.

Fish Friendly Farming started in Sonoma County in 1999 as a way for vineyard operators in the Russian River watershed to have verified that they were using best practices to protect listed fish. It expanded to Napa County in 2002 and now is used in Mendocino, Sonoma, Napa, Solano and El Dorado counties.

The fee for the Fish Friendly Farming program is $11 an acre, but grants cover all but $4 per acre of that, according to Napa Valley Vintners.

LandSmart was developed by resource conservation districts (RCDs) in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties. Grants cover the cost to participate in the LandSmart program.

For vintners pursuing Napa Green Winery certification, the cost of a an integrated resource assessment by Sustainable Napa County project engineer Bill Bennett is roughly $1,000-plus, depending on winery size. Napa Valley Vintners offers some financial help with this, bringing the average out-of-pocket cost to $200–$400 per winery, depending on size, according to the trade association.

Bennett was a plant engineer for the Budweiser-focused brewery in Fairfield for three decades before joining Sustainable Napa County in 2010. The Napa-based Gasser Foundation started the organization in 2007 to promote energy and water conservation in Napa Valley.

NAVIGATING NAPA GREEN

ViewCraft of the Sonoma County community of Graton has been involved with Bay Area and wine industry sustainability programs since the early 1990s, even being involved with the crafting of the Code of Sustainable Winegrowing that became the heart of the CSWA program. Today, the company is helping wine businesses navigate the Napa Green programs. Part of that is help coordinating site visits required by the assessments.

“We calculate water intensity for gallons of water used per gallon wine, energy intensity in kilowatt-hours per case of wine produced and waste diversion, getting recycling and composting numbers from waste-management companies,” said Anna Brittain, MESM, head of ViewCraft communications.

Getting to the zero-waste goal a number of wineries shoot for can be quite a challenge, said John Garn, ViewCraft founder.

“If you count all the pomace in the solid-waste stream, it would be 70 to 80 percent diversion,” Garn said, referring to the grape skins, seeds, stems and other organic leftovers from crush. “But it takes a lot to get to 90 percent or above.”

CONSUMERS ASKING FOR IT

Beyond goals of being good neighbors and good stewards of the environment, vintners are starting to hear from the marketplace that sustainability matters, and verifiably quantifying “sustainability” matters even more, according to Brittain.

“We’re hearing about some increased distributor interest in this information, especially in Scandinavia” she said. “From what we heard, they want some evidence if it is third-party certified and what that means in resource tracking and greenhouse-gas emission tracking.”

And some ViewCraft client vintners that have done case studies on sustainability in marketing have noted that properly communicating and displaying sustainability certifications and achievements can boost sales, sometimes as high as 20 percent.

But Weis of Silver Oak and Twomey has found sustainability in marketing, even putting certification marks on the label, to be a mixed bag.

“We have chosen not to put those symbols on our label,” Weis said. “In traveling the country, I’ve found some are interested in it in some places, and in some places they’re not. It’s certainly not going to hurt you.”

PROGRESS TOWARD SUSTAINABILITY

Roughly half the vineyard acreage in Sonoma and Napa counties has been certified as sustainable as part of ambitious goals by trade groups to have an independent label of authenticity stamped on its claims in the next few years.

In January 2014, Sonoma County Winegrowers announced a goal of 100 percent certified vineyards by 2019, and the county passed the 60 percent mark early this year. That’s 35,000 of the county’s 58,235 vine acres.

In 2015, the Napa Valley Vintners trade association set the goal for all its 435 members with eligible wineries in the Napa Valley involved in the Napa Green program in five years. About 45 percent of Napa County’s vineyards, or about 20,000 acres, are certified under the Napa Green Land.

The Sonoma County vineyard program uses four programs with third-party auditors: CSWA, Fish Friendly Farming, Lodi Rules and Sustainable in Practice (SIP).

The Napa Green program was developed in the early 2000s by more than 20 stakeholders from the wine industry, environmental groups, government and regulatory agencies. Napa County’s vineyard and winery programs are certified by the National Marine Fisheries Service, county of Napa, San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board and the California Green Business Program.

The first Napa Green Winery certification was in 2008. There are now more than 55 certified vintners. Recertification is required every three years, based on tracking water and energy use and waste diversion and demonstrating continuous improvement in resource conservation.

Jeff Quackenbush (jquackenbush@busjrnl.com, (707-521-4256) covers construction, commercial real estate and wine.

Making the commitment to third party certification takes time and effort, but it is worth it to demonstrate our commitment to the community and to protect our watershed, our land and the air we breathe.​

Economic benefits & ROI of workshops: In a time of changing consumer trends, we want you think of us as extended members of your team. We are here to help share information of ways to not only increase your sustainability but also share with you how these things bring with them ROI, decrease in cost, consumer approval & many other economic benefits. 

Join us at our All Things Bottle Sustainability Workshop to hear from our panel of experts. Registration is $20 and the link can be found in our profile. Cheers!
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📣 Don’t miss these events! 

April 26th - All Things Bottle Sustainability, Pine Ridge Vineyards, 9:00am.

May 23rd - The Future of Water Workshop, 9:00am. 

On April 26 we have 12+ speakers covering all aspects of climate smart glass and packaging. Digging in on the truly most sustainable recyclable/compostable/reusable options, with some product show and tell. 

On May 23 we have keynotes from two incredible speakers and internationally renowned experts: Peter Gleick, co-founder of the Pacific Institute and author of The Three Ages of Water, and Mimi Casteel, vineyard manager at Hope Well Wine and forest ecologist. 

Register now!
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Join us for a dinner that brilliantly combines luxury and sustainability with Vintner Kia Behnia, acclaimed Chef Dave Cruz and The Wine Bible Author, Karen MacNeil! 

This event will help Napa Green raise much needed funding to keep our non profit thriving. For more info head to the link in our bio or email social@napagreen.org!
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We invite you join us at a very special wine dinner with @karenmacneilco, Chef Dave Cruz and @neotempowines to raise funds for climate action in the wine industry. 

For further details please go to the link in our profile or email social@napagreen.org. 

We hope to see you there. Cheers!
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Happy Earth Month! While our members celebrate the Earth every day of the year, this month is a great time to showcase those sustainability practices and tell consumers what you do to be green! Be sure to tag @napagreen in your posts, join us @earthdaynapa, and reach out for more ways to get involved!
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Meghan brings her passion for wine and sustainability together in her role as @napagreen’s social media manager. She is both a Vintner and Certified Sommelier and helps our members share their sustainability stories, emphasizing how caring for nature and community elevates both quality and guest experience. 

Thanks for your unwavering passion and dedication @mvino1!
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Join the @napagreen team this earth month at events around the valley at @cliffamily @earthdaynapa @silveroakcellars and more.

We look forward to talking (and drinking) sustainability with you!
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Say hi to @marisataylorwines, our Winery & Climate Specialist. Marisa has supported sustainable farming and green practices from vineyard to cellar and across all winemaking operations and continues to leverage her expertise to help wineries become climate action champions. 

Thanks for all you do!
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Last week we had a great climate smart burn and alternatives demonstration @gloriaferrerwinery where attendees learned techniques for a conservation/low-smoke burn with demonstrations from @thecleanburncompany and @napa.char. 

Additionally, speakers from @naparcd and Treasury Wine Estates presented the results from a recent vineyard biochar application research project. 

Learn more on our website.
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Have you met Sierra, our Climate & Soil Specialist? Sierra works tirelessly to advance climate resiliency in the Napa Valley by collaborating with growers to realize their climate action aspirations. 

Say hi to @growresiliently next time you see her in the field. Thanks for all that you do, Sierra!
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On average 40-60% of a vineyard and winery’s carbon footprint is from packaging and distribution alone. Join us to explore climate smart, sustainable glass, closures, the future of reusable glass, alternative packaging. Hear case studies. Learn what is truly recyclable, and new opportunities to recycle film wrap and label backing. Since 2020, climate smart marketed CPG products have doubled in sales to $3.4 billion. Wine bottles and packaging can be leveraged to meet rising consumer demand for climate smart products.

Get tickets to this workshop @pineridgewine to hear from @napagreen @consciouscontainer @revinobottles @keystonecapsules @cork_supply @neotempowines @estal_packaging @uppervalleydisposal @naparecycling and more!
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You may have seen Megan, our Winery Program Manager, out and about sporting her @napagreen shirt and talking about green practices. Utilizing her background in hospitality, sustainability and engineering she is dedicated in guiding businesses toward a more sustainable future. 

Thanks for all you do @love.dream.breathe!
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Join us for All Things Bottle Sustainability on Friday, April 26th. Link in bio to register!
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Cheers to @abrittain! Anna has worked locally, nationally and internationally on environmental management, including leading @napagreen and @naparise to the forefront of the wine industry climate action movement. 

Keep an eye out for her with our unofficial mascot, Lily, sharing our best practices, facilitating action and growing resilience in our industry and community. 

Thank you for all you do!
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