SIP Certification Summary
In order to qualify for vineyard certification, California growers must farm in a way that protects both natural and human resources as outlined in the rules, otherwise known as the Standards. Not only do growers have to achieve and document all Requirements, but they must also earn 75% of the available points through implementing additional Management Enhancements to qualify for certification. An accredited, 3rd party inspector verifies a grower’s responses and practices through an in-depth records and on-site audit, and certification is granted by an independent Advisory Committee.
Program developers the Vineyard Team and our growers are proud of the robust and comprehensive nature of the Sustainability in Practice (SIP)™ Vineyard Certification Standards which underwent an extensive peer review facilitated by SureHarvest. The Standards require significant documentation and whole farm system management integration. The Standards are a “living document” – as science, technology, and research developments become available the Standards evolve with the expertise of a Technical Committee comprised of:
- Willy Cunha, Sunview Shandon Vineyards
- Amy Freeman, Brave New Wine
- Gregg Hibbits, Mesa Vineyard Management
- Brenda Ouwerkerk, Ag Commissioner, San Luis Obispo County
- Anji Perry, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines
- Daryl Salm, Paraiso Vineyards
10 Standards Chapters
|Conservation and Enhancement of Biological DiversityVineyard Acquisition/Establishment and ManagementSoil Conservation and Water Quality
Energy Conservation and Efficiency
|Air QualitySocial EquityPest Management
Product Assurance and Business Sustainability
The certification Standards include both Requirements and Management Enhancements. Requirements are practices which must be completed. They consist of many practices, but they also prohibit the use of specific chemicals. In order to achieve certification, a grower must not use any of the active ingredients on the Prohibited Materials List (PML). Also included within the document is a farm plan which is required for certification – the farm plan includes documentation, reporting, and written examples of practices throughout the certification standards.
Management Enhancements are practices that build on the Requirements. Growers must earn half of these points based on additional, non-required, but suggested management strategies. These questions allow each grower to document their existing sustainable farming practices and find areas for improvement.
Overall, a grower must achieve at least 75% of the available points to be eligible for SIP Certification. Achievement of these points are verified by an accredited, 3rd party inspector, who completes a thorough records and on-site audit.
Audit reports are blinded (names and companies are removed), and the Advisory Committee determines applicants’ eligibility based on their scores and documentation. This process ensures that the certification is free from conflict of interest. The current Certification Advisory Committee includes the following dedicated experts:
- Monica Barricarte, Regional Water Quality Control Board
- Brenda Ouwerkerk, San Luis Obispo Department of Agriculture
- Steve Peck, J Lohr Vineyards & Winery
- Terry Smith, PhD, Cal Poly
- Jill Whitacre, Independent
Certification is granted on an annual basis. All first year applicants must undergo a complete records and on-site audit. Renewal growers (cycles 2 & 3) undergo a mixture of records and onsite inspections, based on a random selection. (Note: All renewal applicants must submit annual pesticide use records.) In addition, renewal growers may receive an impromptu on site inspection at any time during the season. In cycle 4, the process begins again, with growers going through the complete cycle 1 audit.
For more information, contact Beth Vukmanic Lopez at 805.466.2288.