The Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) will collaborate on “California First” 2008, a campaign designed to celebrate the contributions and achievements of the California wine industry and educate policy leaders, the media and consumers about the state’s diverse wine grape growing regions, wide array of outstanding wines and the industry’s leadership in sustainability.

The “California First” 2008 campaign builds on programs both trade associations have undertaken to showcase California’s wines, vintners and growers, including Wine Institute’s “California First” and California Wine Month programs launched in 2005 and CAWG’s 2007 campaign to highlight California’s sustainable viticultural practices and innovative wine grape growers. “California First” 2008 will complement the historic partnership between Wine Institute and the California Travel and Tourism Commission (CTTC), announced last August, to promote culinary travel and the state’s wine and cuisine offerings with a five-year multi-million dollar campaign to promote California wine, food and tourism.

“When it comes to sharing with the public the attributes of the California wine industry, including being a positive cultural and economic force, our members have similar and complementary messages regarding the importance of agriculture, family businesses, sustainable winegrowing, and wine and food-based tourism. This is a natural partnership in our effort to educate public policy decision makers and unites us in our work in promoting California wine,” said Robert P. (Bobby) Koch, President and CEO of Wine Institute.

“As the U.S. approaches the milestone of being the number one wine-consuming nation in the world, the California wine industry finds itself at a critical juncture,” said Karen Ross, president of CAWG. “It makes sense for our organizations to pool resources and work together on programs that showcase the many attributes of California’s winegrowing community as well as the unparalleled expertise of our growers and vintners.”

Working with wineries, growers, regional winery/grower associations and the trade, the “California First” campaign will involve activities and events designed to promote California Wine Month, raise awareness of California’s leadership in sustainable winegrowing and winemaking practices, enhance and publicize the www.californiawineevents.com Web site, and educate consumers through a media outreach program and ongoing media relations.

The Wine Institute and CAWG have collaborated on many programs in the past, most notably the Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Practices, which the two trade associations initiated in 2002. Designed as an educational and self-assessment program that encourages and empowers growers and vintners to adopt the highest standards of sustainable practices, the Code is a model for the industry and other agricultural sectors and has won several prestigious environmental awards. In 2003, CAWG and Wine Institute formed the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA), a nonprofit organization to assist in the implementation of the Code.