Karissa Kruse, president and CEO of Sonoma County Winegrowers, used the organization’s annual meeting to unveil a number of innovative programs and impressive new partnerships all linked to building upon its role as a global leader in sustainable farming.
“Our growers always ask, ‘what’s next?’ While we have made great progress in our commitment to sustainability, we refuse to rest on our laurels or assume we have reached our goal,” said Kruse. She added, “We are using our proven leadership in sustainability and climate stewardship to flip the narrative to go on offense for the future of farming in Sonoma County and beyond.”
In 2023, Sonoma County Grape Growers, celebrating its 40th anniversary, continues to drive the marketing for the region through its partnership with Landry’s, which operates more than 600 restaurants, hotels, casinos and entertainment destinations throughout the United States and around the globe; its on-going collaboration with GuildSomm to deliver education to the wine trade in the U.S.; and it will be the host of the Food & Wine’s Aspen Classic’s Publishers Party celebrating the renowned magazine’s 40th anniversary.
The organization will also host the second annual Healdsburg Food & Wine Experience to elevate Sonoma County at the only international wine and food show actually held in a wine region. The event will take place May 18-21 of this year. Last year’s inaugural event raised more than $100,000 to its non-profit beneficiary, the Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation.
Said Kruse, “Sonoma County has a unique opportunity to be a living lab for the future of farming and an innovative accelerator. Sonoma County is blessed with more soil types than all of France, a diverse topography and unique microclimates, and we have a proven record of leadership in sustainability and climate stewardship. We are offering an open invitation for thought leaders and innovators to join us in our mission to preserve agriculture in our county and country.”
The Farm of the Future is a forward-thinking effort that is based in scenario planning to respond to climate impacts and changes in the marketplace effectively and quickly. It will serve as an innovation accelerator where businesses can share new technologies and put them into real-life practice. Partners and collaborators can leverage Sonoma County Winegrowers sustainability leadership and a network of climate stewards and forward-thinking change agents.
“The Farm of the Future will address the future of our food source; the future of our national security; the future of our open space; the future of our ag land; the future of sustainability; and, the future of climate stewardship,” said Kruse. She added, “The ripple effect of our effective partnerships, as we are learning firsthand through our collaboration with Ford Pro, is that it is motivating great minds and innovative companies to contact us and ask to work with us to make their ideas a reality. By providing a living lab, Sonoma County winegrowers can pilot proof concept learning that may eventually result in game-changing solutions that can be shared with farmers across the country and around the world.”
The event also included the presentation of the Nick Frey Community Contribution Award to Congressman Mike Thompson. It marked the first time the award had ever been presented to an elected official. Congressman Thompson, first elected in 1998, was instrumental in creating the Congressional Wine Caucus which has been highly effective in bringing Members of Congress and the wine community together to address key issues. The congressman brought his entire staff to the event to share in the recognition.
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.