With much industry input, the process has been long but filled with intentional discussion, critical analysis, and an honest assessment of what Washington wants. Thanks to the leadership of the Washington Wine Industry Foundation, Washington Wine Commission, and Washington Winegrowers, a Washington Sustainable Certification Program is a GO!
So, what’s next? All funding has been secured for the start-up year to build a certification program. Funds were raised by the Foundation and transferred to Washington Winegrowers so as to contract with SureHarvest who will guide the buildout of a certification framework. Marketing has begun (see this info) and the year-long process of certification development started this week.
Here is the timeline for development:
- January 2021: Staff finalizes workplan with SureHarvest
- February 2021: Design blueprint, approach, and framework to Certification Program
- March 2021: Determine operating environment; define “best in class” for Certification Program; create score thresholds for Standards; agree on an approach for Standards assurance (auditing)
- April – June 2021: Flesh out industry-agreed Standards (using Vinewise® self-assessment as starting point)
- June – October 2021: Set up a pilot program, determine volunteer growers to pilot, train third-party auditors
- Late October 2021: Evaluate and assess pilot program; hold industry webinars and presentations; open 30-day public comment period
- December 2021: Finalize Certification Program
- 2022: Launch Certification Program!
It takes a village. Day-to-day management of the process that creates a certification program is handled by Washington Winegrowers. The Washington Wine Industry Foundation will continue to be the conduit for funds and will staff the Sustainability Roundtable. The Washington Wine Commission is focusing on branding and labeling, in addition to marketing and outreach. The Washington Wine Institute is communicating industry commitment to sustainability with policymakers. This is an all-hands-on-deck effort with all industry groups working together—all with eyes on end outcome: launch the pilot by this harvest!
Without industry involvement, this would not have happened–that is something we can all toast! #WAwine!
Interested in being part of the process? To build an inclusive and comprehensive program, all sectors of the industry – growers, winemakers, marketing experts, researchers, and more – will be necessary. If you are interested, please email Katlyn Straub.