The SOMM Journal

August / September 2016

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Page 104 of 148

104 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2016 The best wines, it's always been said, are made in the vineyard. That doesn't make winemakers superfluous, because they, too, make decisions that determine how grapes are grown. But if wine really is made in the vineyard, then most of the reason why California wines have attained such high levels of critical success over the past ten, fifteen years is because of improved performance in the field. Because of farmers, if you will—not winemakers, who often reap most of the glory. In the Central Coast wine region—stretching from San Francisco County all the way down to Santa Barbara County, accounting for some 90,300 acres of planted wine grapes (15% of California's total)—there is a common thread running through the most presti - gious vineyards. The commonality? They are all farmed according SIP Certified standards, the statewide certification that is generally considered the country's strictest program of sustainable grape growing. As of 2016, over 40,000 acres of California vineyards have been SIP Certified—reflecting dramatic growth since SIP's inception in 2008, when 3,700 acres were first certified. What makes SIP—an acronym for Sustainability in Practice—significant for the wine trade? That is, what is it about SIP Certified that makes a direct impact on the quality of the wines we buy and sell in the market? THE STATEWIDE CERTIFICATION PROGRAM IS CREATING A SUSTAINABLE QUALITY REVOLUTION IN CALIFORNIA VINEYARDS BY RANDY CAPAROSO Harvest at Ancient Peaks in Paso Robles. SIP Certified means that employees are offered competitive wages, benefits and training. SIP CERTIFIED

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