SIP Certified is a sustainable vineyard and winery certification that has strict, non-negotiable standards based on science and expert input, independent verification, transparency, and absence of conflict of interest. SIP Certified can help growers and vintners measure their environmental, social, and community impact.
The rules, called standards, require a measurable, holistic set of practices addressing habitat, water, energy, soil, recycling, air quality, packaging, pest management, social equity, and business management. Participants document over 50 requirements and implement practices to achieve 75% of the total available points. Practices are verified through independent records and onsite inspections, and receive final approval from an independent advisory board.
SIP Certified evolved from the programs of the Vineyard Team, a nonprofit that has been dedicated to sustainability since 1994. In 1996, the Vineyard Team pioneered the Positive Points System self-assessment for vineyards utilizing a whole- farm, integrated approach to vineyard management. Since then, more than 1,000 evaluations representing 60,000 acres have been collected. This framework was used to develop self-assessments for other agricultural industries.
In 2002, industry leaders discussed the possible shift from self-assessment to third- party certification that would be meaningful, measurable, and verifiable. In 2003, technical stakeholders began developing the standards. It took four years to develop the standards and over 50 environmental, regulatory, and academic representatives
independently reviewed the work.
SIP Certified prohibits the use of pesticides that fall into five categories: cholinesterase inhibitors, toxic air contaminants, known groundwater contaminates, and both California and federally restricted materials. Certification also requires that vineyards implement and document cultural practices that fit into an overall integrated pest management program. The nearly 150 practices include canopy management to reduce disease pressure, dust management to reduce mite pressure, cover cropping to promote biodiversity and protect soil and water resources, non- cropped area biodiversity areas, extensive scouting and recording, wind measurement prior to spray applications,
equipment calibration, backflow prevention devices, community relations plans, and employee development and safety programs. Participants confirm that they have sold fruit, earned a premium for fruit, increased shelf space, garnered favorable press, and received regulatory relief as a result of SIP Certified. There is a 90% retention rate of participants who become SIP Certified and continue with the program.