Featured in Forbes: How Sonoma County Winegrowers Partnered With Ford Towards Creating The Sustainable “Farm Of The Future”

By Liz Thach, MW |

It takes a lot of a chutzpah to cold call Ford Motor Company and ask them to be your sustainability partner. But Karissa Kruse, President of Sonoma County Winegrowers, and affectionately known as the ‘Queen of Sustainability’, has never been known for timidness.

In 2014, supported by her team, she challenged the 1800 winegrowers of Sonoma County, farming 60,000 acres with grapes sold to 425 Sonoma County wineries, to become 100% certified sustainable by 2019. Certification meant that the growers had to pass a series of third-party audits to prove that they were farming their land according to environmentally and socially friendly standards, such as water conservation, energy efficiency, eliminating and/or decreasing the use of agrochemicals, and adopting best practices in employee and community relations. When the end of 2019 rolled around, a surprising 99% of the grape growers in Sonoma County had become certified sustainable, from a starting point of only 33% in 2014. “There are always a few last hold outs,” quips Kruse.

Not content to rest on their laurels, in January of 2020, Kruse and her team embarked on another initiative towards a Climate Adaptation Certification program for local winegrowers. Starting as a pilot program in 17 vineyards, the goal is to determine best practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A part of this includes adoption of electric trucks, tractors and other farming equipment needed in the vineyards.

“When Ford announced they would be introducing a new electric truck,” states Kruse, “we decided to reach out to them. However, we didn’t know anyone who worked there, so we decided to cold call them. It took a while, but eventually we found the right person to pitch our sustainability partnership for the ‘Farm of the Future,’ initiative. Now we are so proud to have Ford as our partner.”

Ford Pro’s New Electric Trucks, Vans, and Telematics Promote Sustainability and Efficiency

Within a short time, Ford sent a team of experts to Sonoma County to meet with the winegrowers and create a plan to introduce the new F-150 Lightning electric truck, their E-Transit cargo van, charging stations and Ford Pro E-Telematics software to pilot farms.

According to Ryan Southwick, Ford’s West Region Technology Manager,” The Telematics system can be installed under the steering wheel of gas powered vehicles so the growers can begin to track their emissions. It is already integrated into our new electric trucks and vans.”

As part of the program, Sonoma County Winegrowers has committed to purchasing the E-Telematics system for all 1800 growers, and Ford will provide an E-Transit van and F-150 Lightening electric truck to three pilot farms – Vino Farms, Dutton Ranch, and Bevill Vineyard Management – representing 4000 vineyard acres in the Russian River AVA.

Last week Ford demoed the new F-150 Lightening electric truck at the First Healdsburg Food & Wine Festival. Consumers and farmers alike were allowed to climb inside the powerful truck, while others signed up to test drive it – surprised by the roomy and comfortable front and back seats in the extended cab.

According to Elizabeth Kraft, Communications Manager with Ford Pro North America, “F-150 Lightning has the most torque out of any F-150 ever!” It has more hauling power than even the largest gas-powered Ford 150, with battery power of 230 miles for the standard-range battery and 320 for the extended range. The entry-level price point is $39,974 MSRP.

The electric trucks and vans are expected to arrive at the Sonoma County pilot farms this summer. However, the electric truck has received such overwhelming acceptance in the U.S. that it has pre-sold all of 2022 production, and the company is taking orders for 2023 delivery.

Positive Sustainability Results Already with Ford Pro for Sonoma County Vino Farms

Even at this early stage of the pilot program there have already been some positive results with the Telematics software that has been installed in gas-powered farm trucks. According to Marissa Ledbetter, VP of Operations at Vino Farms, “We have over 50 vehicles on Ford Pro Telematics and have already identified insights that are improving our bottom line like long idle times costing us an estimated $24,000 per year in wasted gas.” She continues, “We expect those benefits to grow as electric vehicles and charging stations become a more regular part of our operations.”

The addition of electric vehicles to farming operations will contribute to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions for the wine industry. According to a 2021 Italian wine study, fossil fuels used in the vineyard contribute to 8% of wine’s carbon footprint. Indeed winegrowers use trucks and tractors for many of their operations, including hauling fertilizer, water, and portable bathrooms for trucks, along with sustainable sprays for the vineyards. Some vineyard farm vehicles log upward of 50,000 miles a year in Sonoma County.

“Ford Pro is excited to be working together with Sonoma County winegrowers to reduce carbon emissions,” states Southwick. “Together we can be more effective and efficient.”

Kruse adds, “This collaboration with the Ford Pro team is a great natural next step to help us continue our progress in sustainable agriculture. A lot of farming families have a rich history with Ford, and with history comes trust…..that trust is critical when it comes to investing in electric vehicles….Our farmers love this pilot program; it’s going to be foundational.”

Along with many other commendable companies, Ford has set goals to reduce CO2 emissions. It plans to target 100% renewable energy for its global operations by 2035 and be fully carbon neutral worldwide by 2050.

In the meantime, Karissa Kruse and her team at the Sonoma County Winegrowers continues to take a leadership role in sustainability and creating the “Farm of the Future,” that will not only help lower greenhouse gas emissions, but will also play a key role in sequestering carbon. Indeed, this also supports the original mission of Sonoma County Winegrowers: ‘to increase the value of Sonoma County winegrapes and to nurture and protect this agricultural resource for future generations.’

 

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Sonoma County Honors the Best of the Best at its 2021 Vineyard Employee Recognition Celebration Acknowledging 49 Employees of the Month and Announcing Roberto Alvarez Flores as the Vineyard Employee of the year.

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (May 10, 2022) – The 350+ crowd was all smiles as vineyard employees, their families, and grape growers gathered for the 4th annual Employee Recognition Celebration at Saralee and Richards Barn at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. The Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation’s Vineyard Employee Recognition program is one of the most innovative and prestigious awards in the wine grape industry. The awards, now in their fifth year, recognizes the accomplishments of vineyard employees who have helped to make Sonoma County a world-renowned wine region and a leader in sustainability. This past weekend, 49 women and men
from Sonoma County who excel in farming were honored in front of family, friends, peers, winegrape growers and community leaders. Congressman Mike Thompson, who was unable to attend for the first time, sent a recorded video announcing this year’s Vineyard Employee of the Year recipient and stated he plans to deliver the Congressional Resolution in person later this
month.

“This is one of our most loved programs where our vineyard employees are publicly honored in front of their families and peers. We greatly value our talented vineyard employees who excel in leadership, innovation, safety and conservation, and outstanding vineyard skills,” said Karissa Kruse, president of Sonoma County Winegrowers and the executive director of the Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation. She added, “these individuals work hard to make Sonoma County vineyards some of the best in the world.”

The recognition program began in 2018 to honor the men and women who excel in growing Sonoma County’s sustainable winegrapes. All employees working in Sonoma County agriculture for a vineyard owner, vineyard management company or winery are eligible for the award. Employers nominate Individuals each month throughout the year to recognize their various skills, achievements, and exceptional performance in different areas. Monthly themes include leadership, innovation, safety, frost protection, conservation, pruning, canopy management and harvest. Throughout the year, monthly winners receive gift cards as well as gain recognition in the local community via advertisements, social posts, and articles saluting their success.

At the annual event, award winners from 2021 were joined by their families, nominating vineyard managers, and the Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation’s Leadership Academy inaugural class to celebrate with a catered lunch and live music from a local Mariachi band. Santa Rosa City Council Member Tom Schwedhelm and Foundation Board Chairman Duff Bevill joined Karissa Kruse on stage to acknowledge and present honorees with their plaques and gift bags. Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation officially announced Roberto Alvarez Flores, of Sangiacomo Family Vineyards, as the winner of its 2021 Vineyard Employee of the Year award.

“Roberto Alvarez is the modern-day superhero at Sangiacomo Family Vineyards,” says Steve Sangiacomo, Managing Partner. His coworkers view him as the Albert Einstein of their time. He is innovative and detailed. His nickname is ‘mil usos,’ meaning one who can do anything.”

Steve further said, “when we say our employees become part of our extended family, Roberto is the perfect example. he has worked for our family for over 22 years, evolving with the business every year. His father also worked for our family and today his son, Roberto Jr. works part time while attending Sonoma State University full time. Roberto is one of our top supervisors. His role allows him to teach and care for others. He is admired and respected by his team, leading them with compassion and clear direction.”

At the event Roberto was joined by his wife, children, and parents. His parents had arrived from Mexico the day prior for a scheduled family visit and were there to witness their son named as Vineyard Employee of the Year. It was an unforgettable moment for the family and all those in attendance. Afterwards, Roberto Jr., (Roberto’s oldest son) said, “I have always admired my father and wanted to follow in his footsteps. Today, he raised the step even higher. I could not be prouder.”

Roberto Sr. is involved in managing vineyard frost protection, irrigation management, annual vineyard development, harvest logistics and much more at Sangiacomo Family Vineyards. His reliability, consistent demeanor and critical thinking skills earned him the respect of his co-workers.

Steve Sangiacomo further explained, “As the business has grown, Roberto has expanded his learning and taken on new responsibilities. This is one of the proudest moments ever for our family business to have one of our employees, like Roberto, be recognized in this way.”

Today, Roberto lives with his wife, two daughters and two sons on the Sangiacomo Family Vineyards ranch. His son, Roberto Jr. is pursuing a wine business degree at Sonoma State University with the goal of working in viticulture and the wine community. His daughter Mayra
will be graduating this year from Sonoma State University and will be attending USF to earn a Master’s Degree in Family Therapy.”

The event sponsors included: Ford Pro, Bacho, Redwood Credit Union and the Zenith Agribusiness.

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About the Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation:
The Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation (SCGGF) was first established in 2002 as a 501(c)(3) organization to help fund educational workshops in Spanish for agricultural employees. The foundation was relaunched in January of 2016 by local grape growers who recognized the opportunity to invest and work together to support vineyard employees and their families. SCGGF is focused on improving the lives of Sonoma County’s vineyard employees and their families, while ensuring Sonoma County remains a place where employees will continue to live, work, and thrive. Since its relaunch SCGGF has continuously proven it has a unique model of outreach and support, recognizing and relying on the trusted relationship that farmers have with their employees. SCGGF focuses on critical community areas such as healthcare,
affordable housing, childcare, education, recovery and resiliency, and workforce development. The Foundation is managed by the Sonoma County Winegrowers with an 18-member board of directors comprised of agricultural leaders, vineyard and winery owners, and Sonoma County community leaders.

About the Sonoma County Grape Growers Leadership Academy:
The Leadership Academy, a first-of-its-kind program for vineyard employees, is a pioneering program established in February 2022. The Leadership Academy focuses on advancing the skills needed for vineyard employees to enhance their current leadership skills and prepares them for leadership opportunities within their organization and community. The leadership training goes beyond farming skills. Class topics include, human resources, compliance, safety, communications, financial literacy, disaster preparedness, community resources, conflict resolution, managing people and much more

Download Press Release In Spanish Here

Download Press Release In English Here

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Christine Lilienthal | 707-522-5865 | [email protected]

Ford Pro & SCW Telematics Webinar

Sign up for Ford Pro™Telematics for any truck, make, or model and the Winegrowers Commission will cover the costs through April 30, 2023 (on a single vehicle)*

– Spend less time managing your fleet and more time running your farming business
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– Optimize running costs by monitoring fuel consumption/identifying waste
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– Advance driving behavior with reports on safety belt use, speeding, harsh acceleration/braking and excessive idling

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Farming for the Future Marks New Milestone in Sonoma County

Winegrape Commission Announces Installation and Use of Ford Pro Telematics Available to All Winegrape Farmers

SANTA ROSA, Calif.  (April 21, 2022) – Today, Sonoma County Winegrowers took another step forward in being leaders in sustainability as they announced a complimentary one-year subscription to Ford Pro Telematics to every winegrape farmer in Sonoma County.  The announcement arrives on the heels of the exciting collaboration between  Sonoma County Winegrowers and Ford Pro which also includes a pilot program with three Sonoma County winegrape farmers who have agreed to adopt Ford Pro electric vehicles, charging stations and software solutions into their operations.  It is all part of an effort to improve bottom lines, operational efficiencies and reduce carbon emissions.  Early insights from fleet monitoring software, Ford Pro Telematics, installed into pilot farmers existing gas vehicle operations have already proven to show benefits.

“I am most interested to gain insight on our fleet in real time.   How long are our vehicles idling and what is the cost for that,” said Marissa Ledbetter, owner of Vino Farms and one of the three pilot farmers in Sonoma County.  She added, “To be able to gain insight on all our vehicles, measure it day over day, week over week, will provide me with a level of insight I have never had access to before.”

The intent is to let all farmers experience the many benefits of telematics so they can learn how it will make them more efficient in their vehicle use, lower their operating costs and lower greenhouse gas emissions. This continues the innovation, climate and thought leadership of the local Sonoma County winegrape farmers and is an important milestone to engage all of the farmers in this collaboration and learning.

“Since the announcement of our collaboration with Ford Pro at the beginning of this year, there has been an overwhelming response from our farmers wanting to participate in going electric on their farms and optimizing their fleet management,” said Karissa Kruse, president of the Sonoma County Winegrape Growers.  She added, “Given that interest, there is no better day than Earth Day to announce that SCW is offering free installation and one-year service of Ford Pro telematics for all winegrowers in the County.  This is a win-win for our growers and the environment. A true tribute to caring for our planet”

Ford Pro Telematics software is a product offered on the Ford Pro Intelligence cloud-based platform,  designed to help small businesses optimize their fleet of vehicles by providing always-on  access to vehicle health reports and other data that will help the vehicle owner to reduce operating costs, help improve fuel consumption and identify maintenance needs in addition to monitoring and improving driver behaviors.

One of the most critical tools for a farmer is their vehicles which, on average, log up to 50,000 miles a year and make up 10% of a farm’s assets.  Understanding vehicle usage, down-time and idling in addition to transitioning fleet operations to electric vehicles will  help support the sustainability mission for Sonoma County farmers while helping Sonoma County Winegrowers bring these best practices to farmers across the country.

“The goal of this offer is to provide every grower with ability to use and learn firsthand how telematics can make them more efficient using their work vehicle, lowering their operating costs and lowering greenhouse gas emissions,” said Kruse.  “The farm of the future is right here right now in Sonoma County. We are proud to be part of the progress in climate stewardship.”

Sonoma County winegrape farmers interested in telematics, can learn more here.


 

Download Media Release Here

Contact: John Segale | 916.600.1081 | [email protected]

Sonoma County Farm Bureau 2022 Water Summit

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau is proud to present the inaugural 2022 Water Summit. Over two days, attendees will explore the unique and complex water-related issues facing agricultural producers in California.

Purchase tickets here.

Who should attend:

  • Farmers, Ranchers, and Growers
  • Ag processors
  • Conservationists
  • Environmentalists
  • Tribal Representatives
  • Ag service providers
  • Elected Officials
  • Rural landowners
  • State, County, and City staff
  • CDFA & USDA fund program managers

Speakers include:

  • Representative Jared Huffman, 2nd Congressional District California
  • Secretary Wade Crowfoot, California Natural Resources Secretary
  • Secretary Karen Ross, California Department of Food and Agriculture
  • Don Cameron, President, California State Board of Food & Agriculture
  • Jamie Johansson, President, California Farm Bureau
  • Professor Roger Boulton, UC Davis Department of Chemical Engineering
  • Aaron Magenheim, CEO & Founder AgTech Insight
  • Chis Ott, Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians
  • Matt St. John, Division Chief, California Water Quality Control
  • Dan Wilson, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration
  • Michael Thompson, Assistant General Manager, Sonoma County Water Agency

Topics Include:

  • California water rights
  • Groundwater recharge
  • Sustainability Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)
  • Environmental water policy & needs
  • Reclaimed & recycled water sources
  • The future of water regulations in California
  • The Potter Valley Project
  • Tribal rights, needs & interests
  • Voluntary Drought Initiatives
  • Water conservation technology
  • Drought related programs and mandates

Sonoma County Farm Bureau 2022 Water Summit

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau is proud to present the inaugural 2022 Water Summit. Over two days, attendees will explore the unique and complex water-related issues facing agricultural producers in California.

Purchase tickets here.

Who should attend:

  • Farmers, Ranchers, and Growers
  • Ag processors
  • Conservationists
  • Environmentalists
  • Tribal Representatives
  • Ag service providers
  • Elected Officials
  • Rural landowners
  • State, County, and City staff
  • CDFA & USDA fund program managers

Speakers include:

  • Representative Jared Huffman, 2nd Congressional District California
  • Secretary Wade Crowfoot, California Natural Resources Secretary
  • Secretary Karen Ross, California Department of Food and Agriculture
  • Don Cameron, President, California State Board of Food & Agriculture
  • Jamie Johansson, President, California Farm Bureau
  • Professor Roger Boulton, UC Davis Department of Chemical Engineering
  • Aaron Magenheim, CEO & Founder AgTech Insight
  • Chis Ott, Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians
  • Matt St. John, Division Chief, California Water Quality Control
  • Dan Wilson, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration
  • Michael Thompson, Assistant General Manager, Sonoma County Water Agency

Topics Include:

  • California water rights
  • Groundwater recharge
  • Sustainability Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)
  • Environmental water policy & needs
  • Reclaimed & recycled water sources
  • The future of water regulations in California
  • The Potter Valley Project
  • Tribal rights, needs & interests
  • Voluntary Drought Initiatives
  • Water conservation technology
  • Drought related programs and mandates

Farm of the Future Vision Unveiled by Sonoma County Winegrowers

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (February 3, 2022) — Ever wonder what the farm of the future will look like?  Chances are you won’t have to look very far. 

Following last week’s announcement of a new collaboration between Ford Pro and Sonoma County Winegrowers, the farm of the future in America is likely going to be experienced first in Sonoma County, the nation’s most sustainable winegrowing region, in the very near future.  

On Thursday, for the second year in a row, local winegrape growers turned to technology to virtually participate in Sonoma County Winegrape Growers’ 31st annual Dollars and $ense Seminar and Trade Show.  As in past years, Karissa Kruse, president of the Sonoma County Winegrowers, used the annual event to showcase the sustainability efforts of the organization and shed light on future activities.   

“We have used the past 18 months of the pandemic to rethink everything we do to ensure we further our sustainability goals.  This includes creating the resources, programs and collaborations to accelerate our efforts to successfully farm in the future,” said Karissa Kruse, president of the Sonoma County Winegrape Growers.  She added, “Our intent is for Sonoma County to be an active case study and living lab for the world and our collaboration with Ford Pro is a big step forward to achieve that mission.” 

Working with Ford Pro, Sonoma County winegrowers will be learning about the transition to electric vehicles, fleet management and optimization and how they can play a bigger role in lowering the use of fossil fuels and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This innovative new effort will make farming in Sonoma County and around the country even more sustainable.   

Envisioning what’s ahead for local farmers, Sonoma County Winegrowers launched a new “Farm of the Future” initiative today at Dollars & $ense. This pioneering climate and sustainability program will support Sonoma County’s farmers in optimizing the best practices for climate adaptation, leverage the latest in innovation and technology while recognizing that every year farmers respond to mother nature and need flexibility in farming. This set of best management practices improves their ability to sequester carbon and lower GHG emissions while responding to the current climate, regulatory, marketplace, community, culture and business conditions. There is no single perfect response to these challenges, but there is a way to optimize practices every year and continuously improve. This program builds on the local winegrowing community’s commitment to sustainability and the learning gained from being part of a climate adaptation pilot the past two years.  

Kruse added, “The Farm of the Future gives us an unprecedented approach to farming, best practices, current conditions and how we continue to inspire innovation, thought leadership and partnerships to support Sonoma County grape growing.” 

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About Sonoma County Winegrowers: 

Sonoma County Winegrowers (SCW) was established in 2006 as a marketing and educational organization dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Sonoma County as one of the world’s premier grape growing regions. With more than 1,800 growers, SCW’s goal is to increase awareness and recognition of the quality, sustainability and diversity of Sonoma County’s grapes and wines through dynamic marketing and educational programs targeted to wine consumers and influencers around the world.In 2014, Sonoma County’s winegrowing community embarked on a major initiative to have all Sonoma County vineyards certified sustainable. Today, 99% of the vineyard acreage in Sonoma County has completed certification by a third-party auditor making Sonoma County the most sustainable winegrowing region in the world.  In addition, in 2020, SCW was a pilot partner in a climate adaptation program to learn how local farmers could create custom farm plans to be part of the climate solution and leaders in this movement.  SCW’s sustainability efforts have been recognized with California’s highest environmental honor, the 2016 Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA).  Learn more at www.sonomawinegrape.org. 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT:

John Segale | 916.600.1081 | [email protected]

Farming of the Future: Ford Pro, Sonoma County Winegrowers Join Forces to Electrify Business of Farming

  • Ford Pro is collaborating in a pilot program that will supply three Sonoma County farms in California with the full suite of Ford Pro solutions, including F-150® Lightning Pro pickups and E-Transit cargo vans to help drive their business forward while tackling the next frontier in sustainable fleet operations
  • Pilot program farms are being outfitted with Ford Pro charging stations to complement the solar power that has been a critical part of the push for sustainability by the Sonoma County Winegrowers since 2014
  • Ford Pro Intelligence™1 services is designed to help small businesses optimize their gas and electric fleets by providing always-on access to vehicle health reports and other data that help reduce operating costs, vehicle downtime and fuel consumption

SEBASTOPOL, Calif., Jan. 26, 2022 – One of the most forward-thinking winegrowing counties in the United States is looking to advance its sustainability mission, and the Ford Pro suite of electric vehicles, charging and telematics services has been tapped to help make that happen.

Ford Pro and the Sonoma County Winegrowers, a group of more than 1,800 grape farmers in Northern California, are launching a pilot program that will add Ford F-150® Lightning Pro pickups, E-Transit cargo vans, and Ford Pro Intelligence products and services to three pilot farms in Sonoma County, one of the world’s most renowned wine regions.

The heart of the mission is to demonstrate how electric vehicles and web-based fleet management tools can have a positive impact on the agriculture industry in terms of increasing productivity, improving sustainability and lowering the total cost of fleet ownership anywhere from 10% to 20%2.

“Ford Pro is thrilled to team with the Sonoma County Winegrowers to further their sustainability goals and begin their transition to fully integrated all-electric fleets with on-site charging,” said Wanda Young, Ford Pro global chief marketing officer. “Ford Pro and the Sonoma County Winegrowers are driven by many of the same tenets – to accelerate productivity while operating responsibly.”

The pilot program is launching with Bevill Vineyard Management and Vino Farms in Healdsburg, and Dutton Ranch in Sebastopol – which collectively represent about 4,000 acres in the vineyard-rich Russian River Valley. Young anticipates the program will expand in the coming months to include other farming operations in the county.

About 60,000 acres across Sonoma County are dedicated to growing wine grapes, and another 120,000 acres are used for other diversified agriculture, such as apple orchards, dairy farms and cut flowers. In 2014, the Sonoma County Winegrowers launched an initiative to represent one of the nation’s leading winegrowing regions in terms of sustainability, with a target of reaching sustainable designation for nearly all of its vineyard acreage in the county.

Karissa Kruse, Sonoma County Winegrowers president and internationally renowned sustainability champion, said she believes electric vehicle adoption and efficient fleet management are the next steps in sustainability.

In addition to the vehicles, farms can consult with the Ford Pro team for the duration of the program. Pilot farmers will have access to Ford Pro Intelligence1 software, home and depot charging, Ford Pro Telematics Essentials™3 and Ford Pro E-Telematics™4 and energy management – all to help reduce operating costs and more efficiently manage gas- and electric-powered vehicle fleets.

“This collaboration with the Ford Pro team is a great natural next step to help us continue our progress in sustainable agriculture,” Kruse said. “A lot of farming families have a rich history with Ford, and with history comes trust. So as many of our farmers look for ways to lead in innovation and be a part of the solution, that trust is critical when it comes to investing in electric vehicles and in solutions to manage farming fleets. Our farmers love this pilot program; it’s going to be foundational.”

Vehicles among farmers’ most valuable tools

A year in the life of a Sonoma County winegrower can be sliced into two portions – roughly nine months to grow and three months to harvest. Occasionally, as in 2017, the uncertainties of Mother Nature condense the harvest to a four-week sprint. No time for vehicle downtime.

Ford Pro Intelligence* gives farmers access to important data on every vehicle – whether gas-powered or electric. The web-based service offers always-on access to vehicle health reports and other data designed to help limit vehicle downtime while lowering operating costs. All across the county, on farms large and small, winegrowers rely daily on their trucks to haul everything from fertilizer and fuel tanks to water and portable bathrooms. Some vehicles log upward of 50,000 miles a year, traveling between properties from Cloverdale to Petaluma.

Naturally, operating these vehicles – and maintaining them to keep them operational – is one of an organization’s largest expenses. At Dutton Ranch, which runs a fleet of about 70 work vehicles, fuel costs average about $5,000 per month. The prospect of reducing that monthly expense is critical to operations moving forward. Electric vehicles, coupled with the solar power that many Sonoma County ranches already generate and store, represent an important way to help offset rising fuel costs.

The technology connects wirelessly – helping businesses manage fleets with real-time vehicle insights. Information includes maintenance schedules, charge event monitoring, vehicle tracking, state of charge, range, charge history and logs, charging/battery settings and alerts, and departure preconditioning to help maximize range and save battery life for the road to get the job done.

“Just as an F-150 Lightning or E-Transit is an essential asset for a small business owner, so too is Ford Pro Intelligence,” Young said. “We believe that the telematics data will change the way farmers manage their fleets and operations.”

As veterans in sustainability practices, the Sonoma County Winegrowers have impacted other vocations regionally. Representatives in trucking, logistics, grocery stores and other specialties have taken notice, and Kruse hopes her organization continues to help lead the charge.

Ford, meanwhile, is among the automotive leaders in sustainability – the only full-line American automaker committed to doing its part to reduce CO2 emissions in line with the Paris Climate Agreement and working with California for stronger vehicle greenhouse gas standards5. Ford is targeting 100% renewable energy for its global operations by 2035 and being fully carbon neutral worldwide by 2050.

# # #

1 Available on vehicles with embedded modem or equipped with approved plug-in device. May require modem activation. Ford Pro Telematics and Ford Pro Data Services require a purchased subscription. Terms and conditions apply. Telematics service and features, and access to vehicle data, depend on subscription and compatible AT&T network availability. Evolving technology/cellular networks/vehicle capability may limit functionality and prevent operation of connected features.

2 Based on “Case Study: Olathe Ford CV Dealership Fleet Management TCO Model” KPMG, Dec. 10, 2021.

3 Complimentary product. Available on vehicles with embedded modem. Requires modem activation. Terms and conditions apply. Telematics service and features, and access to vehicle data depend on compatible AT&T network availability. Evolving technology/cellular networks/vehicle capability may limit functionality and prevent operation of connected features.

4 Eligible vehicles receive a complimentary three-year trial of E-Telematics services that begins on the new vehicle warranty start date. Requires modem activation. Terms and conditions apply. Telematics service and features, and access to vehicle data, depend on compatible AT&T network availability. Evolving technology/cellular networks/vehicle capability may limit functionality and prevent operation of connected features. After the three-year trial, annual service contract is required for E-Telematics service. Call 833.811.3673 to activate E-Telematics service.

5 Based on latest available information as of July 8, 2021. https://ww2.arb.ca.gov/.

About Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) is a global company based in Dearborn, Michigan, that is committed to helping build a better world, where every person is free to move and pursue their dreams. The company’s Ford+ plan for growth and value creation combines existing strengths, new capabilities and always-on relationships with customers to enrich experiences for and deepen the loyalty of those customers. Ford designs, manufactures, markets and services a full line of connected, increasingly electrified passenger and commercial vehicles: Ford trucks, utility vehicles, vans and cars, and Lincoln luxury vehicles. The company is pursuing leadership positions in electrification, connected vehicle services and mobility solutions, including self-driving technology, and provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. Ford employs about 184,000 people worldwide. More information about the company, its products and Ford Motor Credit Company is available at corporate.ford.com.

About Sonoma County Winegrowers

Sonoma County Winegrowers (SCW) was established in 2006 as a marketing and educational organization dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Sonoma County as one of the world’s premier grape growing regions. With more than 1,800 growers, SCW’s goal is to increase awareness and recognition of the quality, sustainability and diversity of Sonoma County’s grapes and wines through dynamic marketing and educational programs targeted to wine consumers and influencers around the world. In 2014, Sonoma County’s winegrowing community embarked on a major initiative to have all Sonoma County vineyards certified sustainable. Today, 99% of the vineyard acreage in Sonoma County has completed certification by a third-party auditor making Sonoma County the most sustainable winegrowing region in the world. SCW’s sustainability efforts have been recognized with California’s highest environmental honor, the 2016 Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA). Learn more at www.sonomawinegrape.org.

 

Media Contacts:

Elizabeth Kraft | 313.300.4625 | [email protected]

John Segale | 916.600.1081 | [email protected]

SONOMA COUNTY GRAPE GROWERS’ FOUNDATION SET TO LAUNCH INNOVATIVE LEADERSHIP ACADEMY FOR LOCAL VINEYARD EMPLOYEES

SANTA ROSA, Calif.  (Jan. 11th, 2022) – The Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation will soon launch an innovative program for local vineyard employees with the aim to create future leaders.  The Richard and Saralee Kunde Leadership Academy will provide participants with a unique opportunity to learn about a host of topics including financial literacy, conflict resolution, community resources, wine production and more to provide critical professional development. 

“The Leadership Academy is one of the most exciting efforts ever undertaken in Sonoma County,” said Karissa Kruse, executive director of the Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation and president of Sonoma County Winegrowers.  She added, “We have always enjoyed a strong relationship with our vineyard employees, and we want to provide them with the skill set to help them become leaders in our community and in our industry.”  

The pioneering program will begin on Thursday, February 10th, with California Secretary of Agriculture, Karen Ross, addressing the group and providing an overview of the role of agriculture in the state’s economy.   The initial session will focus on Sonoma County agriculture. The Leadership Academy will provide training in the following topics:  

  • Overview of Sonoma County agriculture, government, policies and more      
  • HR/Compliance/Regulations/Safety Overview     
  • Communications     
  • Conflict Resolution     
  • Financial Literacy     
  • Learning about wine and wine production to connect what they do in the vineyard to the final product 
  • Community resources overview (non-profits and programs that support Latinx population)     
  • Disaster Preparedness        

“I applaud the Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation and the Sonoma County Winegrape Growers for launching this exciting employee leadership program,” said Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture.  She added, “For farming and ranching to remain viable in California, we must create these types of new opportunities for more people to learn, connect and lead the industry in the years ahead.” 

The Academy will not teach new farming skills, but, instead, focus on advancing the skills needed for vineyard employees to be promoted into leadership roles within their organization or enhance their current leadership skills and role.  The Academy is named for the late Richard and Saralee Kunde, respected winegrape growers and community leaders who worked tirelessly to promote Sonoma County grapes, wine, milk and more while working to preserve farming and open space in the region. 

This will be the inaugural year for the Leadership Academy.  It will be an annual program with a limited number of participants each year who will be nominated by their employers and go through a selection process. The class sizes are anticipated to be 20 participants to ensure a good experience and an opportunity for individuals to freely ask questions and to build a professional network.   

“Our intent is to make this the most prestigious leadership program in all of agriculture while empowering participants to pursue leadership opportunities at their work and in our community,” said Duff Bevill, chairman of the Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation’s board of directors.  He added, “This is the next natural step for the Foundation which has long been committed to support our skilled agricultural workforce and their families who sustain farming in Sonoma County.” 

The year-long leadership program will meet 8 times between February and July for a half-day class Vineyard owners and management companies may nominate one employee for the program. There will be up to 20 participants per annual class.   The accepted nominees will participate in the Learning Academy while being paid by their employers.    

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 CONTACT: John Segale | 916.600.1081