While wines are certified organic, the other aspects of green (solar power, water conversation etc.) have largely been a question of wineries opting to police themselves. Wineries could declare themselves to be green minded but for consumers it was mostly a matter of trust.
The California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance which had handled self-assessments, is behind the new initiative. The comprehensive self-test quiz looks at 227 winery practices and provides a good starting point for wineries taking a closer look at steps toward sustainability.
What is particularly interesting about the new certification is that, at least for now, it's not being pushed to consumers. In a comprehensive article in the San Francisco Chronicle, Chris Savage, director of environmental affairs for E&J Gallo Winery, says that the program isn't "about putting a label on the bottle yet."
Auditors haven't been chosen yet but once they are in place they will perform on-site visits at wineries and follow up with online audits. Major winemakers including Gallo, Diageo and Constellation have signed up. Some critics say the current standards are too modest and too vague but the planners say that the certifications will evolve over time. It's at least a good place to start.