I don’t know about you, but Iike a lot of consumers, sustainability has been increasing in importance to me. And given that this is a wine blog that, of course, includes wine. However, when I say “sustainable”, I’m not talking about those B.S. “clean” or “healthy” wines that people peddle and use to prey on consumers fears. I said what I said. And I’m not JUST talking about sustainable vineyard practices or conserving water and using less packaging in the winery. Don’t get me wrong, those things are important too and an integral part of sustainability in wine. But what I’m talking about is a comprehensive approach to sustainability. When you not only focus on what happens in the vineyard and the cellar, but also what happens to the community in which you work and live. THAT is the kind of sustainability that I want to support. And yes, I have some wines for that. Enter SIP Certified.
Earlier this year, I wrote an article for the Vintner Project called “The Chilean Wine Industry is Redefining What it Means to be Sustainable.” The article covered the amazing work that the Chilean wine industry is doing around sustainability. The country’s Sustainability Code employs a magnificently comprehensive approach that encompasses everything from vineyard and cellar practices to social issues and even tourism. Some of the social initiatives addressed include working life quality, employment contracts, health and safety, non-discrimination, professional development, and community relations. After reading all of the things they were doing in Chile, I was all in! I had never seen such things as priorities for the wine industry. And I loved that so many producers and so many varietals were represented. Whether you want a traditional Malbec or one of my darling varietals in Cab Franc, there is no shortage of delicious wine.
But while I was having my Chilean wine love fest, I learned about another equally comprehensive sustainability organization closer to home. And, it was being employed in some of my favorite regions. The SIP (“Sustainability in Practice) Certified organization focuses on the 3 P’s of Sustainability – People, Planet, Prosperity – ensuring that both natural and human resources are protected. To be sure, SIP goes above and beyond the areas covered by national organic and biodynamic programs. The organization provides a rigorous certification process that employs non-negotiable, science-based standards as well as transparency and independent verification.
Like the Chilean program, SIP has integrated standards that focus on the well-being of the people involved including things like social equity and business management. The SIP Certified program began in 2008 with 3,700 acres of vines between Monterey and Santa Barbara counties. Today, there are over 42,000 vineyard acres covered, multiple wineries, and more than 49 million bottles of wine that have been SIP Certified. Consumers around the world can now find a wide array of sustainably produced wines to fit their needs, budgets, and stylistic preferences. What’s more, identifying these wines is so easy. Just look for the “SIP Certified” label on the bottle.
And these aren’t just fringe wines that you’ve never heard of or some sort of marketing gimmick. I was thrilled to see some of my favorite vineyards as members. There is even a large contingent of Santa Barbara vineyards represented, which of course I’m such a fan of based on my recent trip out there. Who knew?! It was fun to go through my cellar to see how many of these wines I had without even realizing. You can check out a list of SIP Certified members here. I had the recent please of receiving a couple more of these wines to try as samples.
So far, I’ve enjoyed the Pomar Junction Cabernet Sauvignon out on the patio. Rich with voluptuous dark fruit, mocha, and spice, it was quite smooth and went down way too easy! I actually tried this one first because 1- everyone these days seems to be talking about Paso (I so need to get out there) and 2 – I’m planning on the Timbre Riesling for my Thanksgiving feast. So you’ll have to check my social media to see how that one turns out.
Now get out there and drink well!