Interested in producing wine from LODI RULES certified sustainable grapes?
Like LODI RULES growers, a number of vintners are proudly committed to environmental, social, and economical sustainability.
Consumers easily identify these sustainable wines by the LODI RULES or CALIFORNIA RULES certified green seal on the wine label.
This page provides new wineries looking to join the sustainability effort with information on how to participate in LODI RULES.
Have questions? Contact Dr. Stephanie Bolton, the Sustainable Winegrowing Director, at (209) 367-4727.
Do wines bearing the LODI RULES or CALIFORNIA RULES seal have a competitive edge? YES!
According to a study funded by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, 86% of wine market gatekeepers (wine buyers for restaurants, retailers, and retailers) surveyed said that environmental attributes of wines factor into their purchasing decisions.
Furthermore, 81% of gatekeepers believe certification seals on wine labels are helpful for making purchasing decisions.
Step-by-step process for using a LODI RULES or CALIFORNIA RULES seal
- Source LODI RULES certified grapes.
- Apply to use the LODI RULES or CALIFORNIA RULES seal.
- Design a wine label that includes the LODI RULES or CALIFORNIA RULES seal.
- Submit a proof of the wine label to the TTB for approval through COLAs.
Sourcing LODI RULES grapes
There is no shortage of LODI RULES certified grapes. As of 2018, over 45,000 acres of winegrapes are certified in the program.
When setting prices paid for certified grapes or negotiating contract details, we encourage wineries to take into consideration that growers make a significant financial investment in the form of annual certification fees and the cost of labor necessary for managing records. Most wineries offer growers a price premium of $25-50 per ton for certified grapes.
To date, over $7.2 million in bonuses have been paid to LODI RULES growers, a movement largely due to several influential wineries recognizing the added VALUE and QUALITY of sustainably produced winegrapes.
Applying to use the LODI RULES or CALIFORNIA RULES seal
Wineries intending to use the LODI RULES or CALIFORNIA RULES seal on their labels must submit an application.
Applications can be submitted at any time throughout the year, but must be completed before a graphic artist begins integrating the LODI RULES seal into label design and before labels are submitted to TTB’s COLAs.
Once your application has been processed, you will receive a digital file of the seal for use in label design.
Requirements for using the LODI RULES or CALIFORNIA RULES seal
LODI RULES is recognized as one of the most rigorous sustainable viticulture certification programs in existence. In 2014, the program earned a Governor’s Environmental & Economic Leadership Award (GEELA). Just as growers are held to high vineyard management standards, wineries using the LODI RULES or CALIFORNIA RULES seal must meet minimum requirements. At least 85% of the grapes used in a bottle of wine bearing the seal must be LODI RULES certified.
Chain of custody
Wineries are required by the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to keep chain of custody records. Wineries must keep records documenting blending practices to ensure that the final product meets the minimum percentage of certified grapes (85%). Record keeping is critical as it ensures the legitimacy and validity of the LODI RULES seal. TTB regulates all claims made on wine labels, including certifications like LODI RULES. Every harvest upon purchasing certified grapes, wineries must acquire a copy of the LODI RULES certificate from the grower. Certificates are issued to growers annually upon fulfillment of certification requirements. When submitting your wine label applications to TTB’s Certificates of Label Approval system (COLAs), we recommend attaching a copy of the LODI RULES certificate in the “other documents” section of the application. Chain of custody records may be reviewed by TTB during an audit.
Resources to promote your winery, brands, and Lodi as certified sustainable
Using the LODI RULES seal on wine labels is a first step toward capturing the market benefits of sustainably certified winegrapes, but promoting the sustainability of your winery requires integrating the concept of sustainability into several aspects of your business. The Commission offers a number of free resources and services to help wineries promote LODI RULES wines. Below you will find downloadable documents which can be printed out for use in tasting rooms, events, sales meetings, and for winery employee training.
Training winery staff, especially tasting room employees and sales representatives, about the LODI RULES program and sustainable agriculture in general is key. Contact Dr. Stephanie Bolton at email@example.com to schedule a training session about the LODI RULES for your winery team. These individuals often represent your brand to the general public and to potential customers, and should therefore be prepared to speak articulately about the LODI RULES and why wines made from certified grapes are special. Stephanie will explain the process growers are required to go through to achieve certification, how wineries can source certified grapes, and what wineries must know and do to use the LODI RULES seal on their labels.