Sustainability in Practice (SIP) Vineyard Certification

Both of our estate vineyards, Paragon and Firepeak, have earned the Sustainability in Practice™ (SIP™) Vineyard Certification. Farmed by our Pacific Vineyard Company, we have owned these vineyards since Jack Niven, the winegrape planting pioneer of the Niven family, began planting them in the early 1970s. Certification of these vineyards proves our collective commitment to environmental stewardship, economic viability, and equitable treatment of employees. A project of the Central Coast Vineyard Team, SIP ™ provides a comprehensive and verifiable method to authenticate a vineyard’s attention to integrated farming practices. Our estate wines, beginning with the 2008 vintage, will carry the official seal of certification.

George Donati, President of Pacific Vineyard Company, and his team have been working closely with the Central Coast Vineyard Team for years, helping to write and perfect the standards that eventually became the certification program. We have historically farmed in a careful and responsible manner that takes into account all facets of the world around us, and would continue to do so whether or not this certification program was developed. Even though, we were honored to participate in the pilot program, and are immensely proud to be amongst the first ten vineyards to earn the certification.

We were presented with a robust and comprehensive set of standards. Areas addressed included biodiversity, social equity, community involvement, energy efficiency, pest management, air quality, water quality and conservation, and practices that reduce risk. A few ways we met these standards:

  • Water Conservation: All drip irrigation amounts are based on evapotranspiration so as to deliver the proper amount of water to the vines each week, avoiding over-watering.
  • Energy Conservation and Efficiency: In order to reduce time, use of fuel, and compaction of the soil, up to four tasks are performed by tractor equipment in one pass.
  • Pest Management: Predators are introduced to naturally combat problem pests, like the mealybug destroyer, whenever possible. Use of Category 1 pesticides has been virtually eliminated, and raptor boxes are in place to encourage owls and hawks to hunt for rodent pests.

Once we proved we met the standards, we were audited by an independent, third-party inspector. The Certification was granted by an independent advisory board, based on the recommendation and reporting of the inspector.

Our work continues, as we plan to continually earn the SIP TM certification for each vintage in the future.

More information about Sustainability in Practice™ (SIP™)Vineyard Certification can be found at