The McLaren Vale Wine Region has an impressive record of innovative schemes and practices which promote a sustainable grape growing and wine production industry and care of the environment. Leadership is provided through McLaren Vale Sustainable Winegrowing Australia (MVSWA) and McLaren Vale Grape, Wine and Tourism Association (MVGWTA). The Region is recognised for these achievements within Australia, but has no formal means of using this reputation when marketing overseas. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) environmental management standard, ISO 14000, could provide official certification that would be recognised internationally.
The aim of this project was investigate the feasibility of developing a consortium model for an Environmental Management System (EMS) based on the ISO 14000 standards and the feasibility of seeking certification to ISO 14001. The investigation consisted of four stages: research into conformity certification organisations in Australia and their attitudes towards certification of a consortium and a search for any examples of certification of a consortium; interviews with key informants, typically wine and travel writers from outside McLaren Vale; a pilot focus group session with grape growers from McLaren Vale and recommendations for an EMS for the MVGWTA consortium.
The study concluded that an EMS guided by ISO 14000 is feasible and worthwhile. The success of the EMS will be described in terms of a few performance measures which are chosen to be: communicable to the general public; representative of the entire McLaren Vale Wine Region; and straightforward to obtain with limited resources. The MVGWTA website can be updated to include the region’s environmental policy and time series of the performance measures.
However, the high cost of certification to ISO 14001, and the likely complexity of an EMS that is fully compliant with the Standard for all members of MVGWTA, exceeds the likely benefits. A complex EMS is unlikely to engage members of MVGWTA and would not be feasible to implement. Consequently, we do not now recommend certification by a JAS-ANZ accredited company. Alternatively, it may be worth establishing an industry specific auditing scheme. An example of such a scheme is the Australian Southern Rocklobster Clean Green Program, adopted in the fishing industry.