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Every Day is Earth Day for the Most Sustainable Winegrowing Region

Few organizations or businesses have been as proactive in addressing environmental concerns and lessening their impact than the Sonoma County Winegrowers (SCW).

Ten years ago, Sonoma County Winegrowers announced its intent to become the nation’s – and likely the world’s – first 100% certified sustainable wine region by 2019.  It was a bold, ambitious declaration but Sonoma County’s winegrowers were committed and, together, they succeeded in meeting their target in just five years.  Today, Sonoma County has a record 99% of its local vineyards certified sustainable.

Five years ago, Sonoma County Winegrowers became an exclusive participant in the California Land Stewardship Institute’s (CLSI) Climate Adaptation Certification program marking the first-time participating growers could obtain certification for a comprehensive greenhouse gas reduction and carbon sequestration program.   Over the past few years, CLSI has created customized local farm plans based on soil type, microclimate, elevation, history of the land and farming practices that meet the certification requirements. In partnership with the California Farm Bureau Federation’s scientific arm, 3,860 acres in the pilot program have been certified. An additional 9,000 acres are in the process of achieving certification later this year.

Last week, local winegrowers began receiving Smart Apply , precision spraying equipment from John Deere Company, as Sonoma County Winegrowers embark on a major collaboration with one of the world’s most iconic brands. The John Deere technology is designed to enhance eco-friendly practices, minimize the carbon footprint, and encourage sustainable land management.  It is an important part of John Deere’s collaboration with SCW’s innovative Farm of the Future, a living lab for the future of agriculture and an innovation accelerator.

Clearly, winegrowers in Sonoma County are constantly pushing to do more. Over the past ten years, their commitment to continue to build on their sustainability leadership through a variety of activities and programs has earned them a worldwide reputation as a global leader in sustainability and regenerative agriculture. It is no surprise that SCW has been recognized with California’s highest environmental award, the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award.

“It is important on Earth Day to recognize Sonoma County and our 1,800 local, forward-thinking winegrowers who have a proven track record of disrupting the status quo through collaborations, innovation, and leadership.  Since 2014, we have developed, partnered, and implemented a wide variety of initiatives to bring about a real impact,” stated Karissa Kruse, President and CEO of the Sonoma County Winegrowers.

Through its Farm of the Future, Sonoma County Winegrowers view their vineyards as a living lab to collaborate with innovative companies to pilot concepts that may eventually result in game-changing solutions for farmers around the world.  In addition to John Deere Company, Farm of the Future collaborators include Ford Pro, Wilbur Ellis, and Agrology.

Said Kruse, “Today, Sonoma County is rapidly transforming into an ag incubator and living laboratory as a multitude of companies are seeking to work with our growers to develop game-changing solutions and real-world applications to some of the biggest environmental challenges.” She added, “It is so exciting to hear from companies that want to come to Sonoma County and be a part of the Farm of Future.”

Sonoma County winegrape farmers and winemakers are dependent on a healthy environment to grow and make some of the world’s best wines.  Because of this, SCW has also developed the industry’s first one-hundred-year business plan; established the Center for Ag Sustainability; created a sustainable wine label that now appears on more than 3 million cases of Sonoma County wines and 600 different wine SKUs; cut the use of glyphosate in Sonoma County by 70% while more than 45,000 vineyard acres of Sonoma County’s 60,000 vineyard acres have become glyphosate free; and established a leadership academy to teach a variety of skills and trainings to help vineyard employees become better leaders in their community and workplace.

“In Sonoma County’s vineyards, it is clear that every day is Earth Day and consumers can order any glass or purchase any bottle of wine from Sonoma County with full confidence knowing that the wine is made with certified sustainable grapes,” said Kruse.

About Sonoma County Winegrowers: Sonoma County Winegrowers (SCW), was established in 2006, evolving from the Sonoma County Grape Growers Association, which was first launched in 1983 by local grape growers inspired to work together to elevate the region. SCW is 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 became the exclusive pilot partner for the California Land Stewardship’s Climate Adaptation Certification. In 2022, SCW began envisioning a Farm of the Future which it officially introduced in 2023.  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.

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