Sonoma County Winegrowers Launch Grant Program to Help Support Sustainability Certification

Growers Can Receive $400 Vouchers to Aid with Initial Certification Costs

SANTA ROSA, Calif.   – Sonoma County Winegrowers today announced that it is committing up to $100,000 in grant funding to help support grower’s sustainability certification. The organization is offering 250 vouchers, each worth $400, to be used by their grower members to offset the costs associated with completing certification. Only grape growers who pay an assessment into the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission are eligible to participate in this program.

“When we launched this initiative 15 months ago, we knew the two main concerns from growers would be time and money,” said Karissa Kruse, president of the Sonoma County Winegrowers. “The Board of Director’s took quick action a year ago by hiring Robert LaVine as our Sustainability Manager to help assist growers through the process, and today they’re approving a grant program to financially support this important commitment that has been recognized around the Globe.”

In April 2014, industry veteran and sustainable winegrowing expert Robert LaVine was hired to help grape growers go through the sustainability certification process. Over the past year, he has worked one-on-one with growers in their vineyards and around their dining room tables, as well as participated in workshops held by Sonoma County’s AVA organizations and larger wineries to support vineyard sustainability assessments.

The commitment to sustainability by the growers has provided incredible results in these first 15 months. As of April 30, more than 34,350 acres – 58% of the county’s vineyard acres – have completed a self-assessment, with 33% of vineyards obtaining certification as of January. There are 59,128 acres planted to vineyards which accounts for just 6% of Sonoma County’s total acreage. Sonoma County is comprised of many small farms with more than 40% of Sonoma County’s vineyard parcels less than 20 acres in size, and 80% of the county’s vineyards less than 100 acres.

“This grant funding comes at an opportune time with more than half of our vineyards already completing their sustainability self-assessment,” says Dan Rotlisberger, member of the SCW Board of Directors and Chair of the Sustainability Committee. “We know this $400 voucher will not cover the entire costs of certification, but it will make a huge difference for our small grower community.”

For a single vineyard operation the cost to become certified sustainable under the California Sustainable Winegrowing program includes $250 to register for the program and auditing costs ranging between $800 and $1,000 per year. For those eligible growers interested in applying for a grant, contact Robert LaVine at 707-522-5851 or Robert@sonomawinegrape.org.