Sonoma County Winegrowers Release 2nd Annual Sustainability Report Documenting Impressive Progress Towards 100% Goal

After Just Two Years Almost Half of County’s Vineyard Acreage is Certified Sustainable

SANTA ROSA, Calif.  (January 13, 2016) – As Sonoma County’s reputation around the world as a leader in sustainability continues to grow, the march towards its 100% goal picked up major momentum in 2015, according to the findings released in the Sonoma County Winegrowers’ 2nd Annual Sustainability Report.

Among the highlights of the past twelve months:

  • 64% (37,392 acres) of Sonoma County’s 58,280 vineyard acres have been sustainably self-assessed;
  • 48% (27,761 acres) of Sonoma County’s vineyard acres have been certified sustainable by a third party auditor;
  • 313 Sonoma County Sustainable vineyard signs were distributed and are now displayed in vineyards across the county;
  • 36 presentations were given by Sonoma County’s Winegrowers’ President, staff, and board members, including Wine Visions Conference in Bilbao, Spain;  SIMEI International Congress on Sustainability in Milan, Italy;  FIVS Global Trade Policy Conference in Brussels, Belgium; Wine America’s Wine and Grape Policy Conference in Washington, D.C; 8th Annual Wharton Initiative for Global Environment Leadership (IGEL) Conference in Philadelphia, PA; Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sustainable Food Institute Conference; North Bay Business Journal’s Sonoma IMPACT conference; and Sonoma County Alliance.
  • More than 1,280 Sonoma County grape growers participated in sustainability workshops, meetings and related events in 2015; and
  • More than 162,340 pounds of vineyard material was recycled by growers in 2015.

“When we began this quest two years ago, we never fully understood the impact of our goal in the global marketplace, but we did know that sustainability was and remains the best thing to do for Sonoma County, for our businesses and for the environment,” said Karissa Kruse, president of Sonoma County Winegrowers. She added, “During my travels throughout the United States and Europe last year, I was constantly met by people who said they read or heard about our sustainability program and were modeling efforts similar to Sonoma County’s in their corner of the world. I hope everyone in Sonoma County takes pride in our accomplishments and what the local wine community is doing to improve our region.”  

Sonoma County Winegrowers take a triple-bottom line approach to sustainable practices that measure grape growers’ commitment to being socially responsible in how they treat their employees, neighbors, and community, environmentally conscientious with their farming and winery practices, and economically viable as a business.  Sonoma County has very strict standards for acceptance into their sustainability program, including third party certification.

Currently, Sonoma County Sustainability works with California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA), Lodi Rules, and Sustainable in Practice (SIP).

For a vineyard to become sustainable growers must complete a self-assessment of their vineyards that includes a comprehensive set of 138 best practices that are rated on a scale of 1 to 4.  Next, a plan is developed to document year-to-year improvements focused on water conservation, water quality, energy efficiency, employee and neighbor relations, business viability and more.

Once growers complete their self-assessment, they work with an independent third-party auditor to review their assessment, conduct onsite visits to the vineyard to evaluate and validate the practices and review the annual improvement plan.  If the auditors, who are environmental scientists, biologists, chemists, professors, geologists and other trained professionals, approve the vineyard assessments and plan, then the grower receives certification.

“Our growers are passionate about farming and are deeply committed to preserving agriculture in Sonoma County forever,” said Kevin Barr, chairman of the Sonoma County Winegrowers board of commissioners and owner of Redwood Empire Vineyard Management Company.  He added, “We are focused on our sustainability efforts and proud to see the positive impact our practices are having on the local community, such as protecting the environment, taking care of our employees, ensuring our businesses endure long term, and always continuously improving.”

The annual report is being distributed in local newspapers throughout the Northbay region this week. It is also available on the Sonoma County Winegrowers’ website at http://www.sonomawinegrape.org/sustainability/report

 

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About Sonoma County Winegrowers:

The Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, also known as Sonoma County Winegrowers (SCW), is a marketing and education organization dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Sonoma County as one of the world’s premier grape growing regions.  SCW has oversight by the California Department of Food and Agriculture and seeks to increase awareness and recognition of the quality and diversity of Sonoma County’s grapes and wines through dynamic marketing and educational programs targeted to wine consumers around the world.  In January 2014, SCW committed to becoming the nation’s first 100% sustainable winegrowing region by 2019.  Currently, 64% of the vineyard acreage in Sonoma County has gone through the sustainability self-assessment and 48% of vineyards are certified by a third party auditor. For more information about SCW and its programs, visit www.sonomawinegrape.org

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