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U.S. EPA awards grant to Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission for sustainable viticulture

Release Date: 10/15/2003
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, 415-947-4207

SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that it has awarded the Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission a grant of $49,000 over two years to establish standards for sustainable production of winegrapes in its region.

The commission, which will administer the grant, will work with Protected Harvest - a non- profit organization to create a certification program that will offer an incentive to winegrape growers to reduce their pesticide use. The system will reward the use of other sustainable farming practices and add value to the grapes of participating winegrowers.

The project objectives are to:

  • develop a set of production standards for sustainable winegrape production in the Lodi-Woodbridge winegrape growing region;
  • to develop an in-field inspection program;
  • to educate growers, vintners and wine industry members about sustainable winegrape growing practices and certification;
  • and enroll 2,500 acres of winegrapes in a certification program using the standards developed in the first objective, and the independent verification system developed in the second objective.

Pesticide use in vineyards is one of the highest of any agricultural crop in California. There are many practices that California winegrape growers can adopt to reduce pesticide risk. However, even though most growers would like to use these practices there is a perception that many of them are more labor intensive and expensive.

"What the Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission and Protected Harvest are planning to do is an important step towards employing more sustainable practices in the winegrape industry," said Enrique Manzanilla, director of the Cross Media Division in the EPA's Pacific Southwest regional office. "We are glad we have to opportunity to fund this work."

The winegrape commission grant will convey the benefits of these practices to the average grower that results in their adoption on an industry-wide basis, with a system for measuring and rewarding the level of adoption and the resulting outcomes.