Gov. Schwarzenegger honored the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA) with the 2010 Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA), the state’s highest environmental honor, for the California Sustainable Winegrowing Program during a ceremony at the Governors’ Global Climate Summit 3 at the University of California, Davis Mondavi Center Global Pavilion. A 2004 GEELA recipient, CSWA received this year’s award in the category of Enhanced Environmental and Economic Leadership. This category honors prior GEELA award recipients who have sustained exceptional leadership and demonstrate significant and robust improvements in voluntary efforts previously recognized, which conserve California’s resources, protect and enhance the environment and strengthen the economy.

CSWA is a 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit organization established by Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers eight years ago to support widespread adoption of sustainable winegrowing practices. The program has broad industry participation with 1,566 vineyard and winery organizations, representing 68 percent of California’s vineyard acreage and 63 percent of the state’s 240 million case shipments evaluating their operations with CSWA’s Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Practices workbook. CSWA has held nearly 400 sustainable winegrowing workshops throughout California since the inception of its program with more than 9,200 growers and winemakers attending the workshops.

“California’s vintners and growers have embraced our program for the long-term viability of their family businesses and local communities,” said Wine Institute President and CEO Robert P. (Bobby) Koch. “Our goal is to advance the California wine industry as a world leader in sustainable winegrowing and to continue contributing to the state’s economy and its appeal as a place to work and visit.”

“The GEELA Award is a high honor for CSWA and we welcome recognition of the tremendous strides made by California winegrape growers toward realizing the promise of sustainability,” said California Association of Winegrape Growers President John Aguirre.

“A highlight of CSWA’s recent progress was the introduction of a voluntary third-party certification for our sustainable winegrowing program launched earlier this year,” said CSWA Executive Director Allison Jordan. “With a majority of California’s wine community already involved in CSWA’s program, the new certification option is a natural evolution for those businesses that want to take their participation to the next step by verifying their continuous improvement in sustainability. In addition, CSWA has documented improvement in a majority of the 227 practices included in the Code workbook in the 2009 California Wine Community Sustainability Report.”

The annual GEELA program is administered by the California Environmental Protection Agency and the Natural Resources Agency, in partnership with the Department of Food and Agriculture, Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, California Integrated Waste Management Board, and the State and Consumer Services Agency. More information about CSWA is at www.sustainablewinegrowing.org.