Celebrating 15 Years of SIP Certified
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Celebrating 15 Years of SIP Certified

posted: September 27, 2023

Nearly 30 years ago, a small group of like-minded grape growers started a nonprofit to guide and educate the industry toward sustainability. Today, one of the groups’ award-winning programs, SIP Certified, is recognized as the gold standard program for sustainable winegrowing.

SIP Certified logo

In 1996, this group, known as Vineyard Team, wrote the first self-assessment for sustainable vineyard farming: The Positive Points System (PPS). By completing the PPS year after year, growers would evaluate and improve their sustainable practices on every level, from habitat protection to water conservation, soil health to human resources.

Consumer demand to understand how their wine was made compelled the group to transform the self-assessment tool into an official certification program. Their goal was to develop a rigorous, third-party verified program so vineyard stewards could be confident that they were improving their sustainability through science-backed and grower-tested practices. After years of intensive review by viticulture experts, national researchers, and experienced growers, the SIP Certified pilot program launched in 2008.

SIP Certified property sign posted on a fence at Bon Niche Cellars, San Miguel, CA

Now in its 15th year, over 47 thousand certified acres and five wineries across three states, plus over 60.3 million bottles of SIP Certified wine are proof that farmers and winemakers see the value in and embody the ethos of adopting sustainable practices. The SIP Certified seal shows that winegrowers are implementing science-based sustainable practices so customers can trust that the wine in their bottle is made with care for the people and planet.

“It’s important to me to be a conscientious member of our community, and the SIP Certified program is a comprehensive process that demonstrates our dedication to people, our land, and our vines,” says Melani Harding, owner and winemaker at Bon Niche Cellars. The small estate vineyard tucked away on the Pleasant Valley Wine Trail in San Miguel, California has SIP Certified their seven acres of vines since 2021. “Our customers are excited for us to have achieved this certification, but it’s been our neighborhood that has been most appreciative… they are thankful that we are striving to protect our shared resources.”

Melani Harding, owner and winemaker at Bon Niche Cellars in San Miguel, California

Vineyard Team’s Executive Director, Beth Vukmanic, applauds the hundreds of growers who have met the program’s strict standards, and looks forward to the program’s continued expansion. “The success of SIP Certified shows that participants trust in the program’s strict standards and are willing to go the extra mile to improve the sustainability of their vineyards and wineries. We look forward to the program’s continued success, and continuing to reach our internal goals to support our members.” The program goals provide SIP Certified members with regulatory relief opportunities, streamlined documentation management and inspections through the SIP Certified database, and educational programs to help customer-facing staff communicate the significance of sustainability with wine consumers.

Beth Vukmanic, Executive Director, Vineyard Team

Beth continues, “Vineyard Team would like to thank all of its supporters; from the growers who kindled its grass-roots origins, to today’s business and grower members, SIP Certified members, its board of directors, and various committees. For 15 years, SIP Certified has provided growers with a science-based, grower-tested system to help them adopt the most efficient, environmentally and economically viable practices. Our community of like-minded ag professionals help the further adoption of sustainable practices that will improve the agricultural system today and into the future.”