Napa Valley Vintners, a trade group for more than 300 local wineries, has launched a certification program for any Napa County winery that wants verification for its claims to being green.
According to the North Bay Business Journal, this is part of a wider effort in business to be counted for practices and capital investments deemed to have a lighter or positive effect on the environment. It’s also meant to discount claims that such efforts are merely marketing, a tactic called “greenwashing.”
Last week, the Napa Valley Vintners held its first workshop for the Napa Green Certified Winery program with five vintners in the test phase of the program last fall talking about what it took to get certified.
Participating in the pilot have been Chateau Boswell, Cuvaison Estate Wines, Cakebread Cellars, Hess Collection and Trinchero Family Wines.
The Boswell family members were the first vintners to apply, and their 11,000-case-a-year Silverado Trail winery near St. Helena was the first in Napa County certified by the Bay Area Green Business program. Already a participant in the four-year-old Napa Green Certified Land program, the owners of Chateau Boswell decided to certify the facility as it underwent an expansion with 11,000-square-feet of caves.
That included use of special glass in the high-efficiency lighting fixtures to allow spacing of one per 20 feet, installation of an innovative water cooling system between the cave and the winery, replacing hose bibs with spray nozzles to prevent drips and running water, and changing out certain piping with NSF-certified crosslinked polyethylene, or PEX, tubing and brass components with stainless steel.
The last measure was in response to the very low lead limit for brass in Proposition 65, though some manufacturers have started making fixtures with lead-free brass.
“The whole thing about being a green business is thinking ahead,” said Susan Boswell. Solutions at the other pilot wineries included recycling of cork stoppers, using lighter-weight glass bottles and switching employee water bottles from plastic to stainless steel.
Napa Valley Vintners’ Napa Green Certified Winery program is an adaptation of the voluntary Bay Area Green Business certification program run by the Association of Bay Area Governments. The winery version takes that further by calling for more reuse of wastewater and grape waste and even more energy efficiency, especially through the use of solar power, according to a spokesman for the vintners’ group.
“There are not too many agricultural businesses in the nine Bay Area counties, so we are looking for something specific to the wine business,” said Terry Hall, a spokesman for the Napa Valley Vintners.
Napa County was a founding member of Bay Area Green in the mid-1990s, but dropped out for lack of funding, according to county coordinator Steve Lederer. That changed in mid-2006, when Lederer took the helm of the county Environmental Management Department, and supervisor Mark Luce, an early backer of Bay Area Green, pushed to fund the effort.
Currently, 13 Napa County businesses are certified by Bay Area Green. The vintners’ association is working on setting up a waiting list for participation in the Napa Green Certified Winery program. That’ll be needed, if the Sonoma Green Business Program is any indication.
Sonoma County currently has 25 companies in the pilot for its revamped green business program, and 200 have submitted applications or called the county’s Business Environment Alliance for details about renewing their certification under the new program, according to coordinator Laura Kim.