Leadership
Sonoma Winegrowers Create Business Plan to Preserve Agriculture for Next 100 Years

Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, also known as Sonoma County Winegrowers (SCW), has created a 100-year business plan to preserve agriculture in Sonoma County well into the 22nd century.

The time period of 100 years was chosen because it represents two generations before and the next two future generations — spanning from grandparents to grandchildren. The plan addresses such issues as innovation and research, natural resources, the regulatory environment, community engagement and marketing while building coalitions throughout the community in support of sustaining agriculture in Sonoma County in the long term.

The plan is designed as a living document to be executed through both annual and five-year benchmarks that will identify transformational opportunities for collaboration and seek partnerships with a variety of groups, including agricultural, business, community and education as well as government leaders.

This announcement comes nearly one year to the day after Sonoma County Winegrowers announced its commitment to become the nation’s first 100 percent sustainable wine growing region by 2019. Sonoma County winegrape growers are currently following a rigorous sustainability self-assessment and third party certification program focused on 138 farming and business practices, such as land use, canopy management, energy efficiency, water quality assessments, carbon emissions, healthcare and training for employees and being a good neighbor and community member.

In the past year, the local wine industry reached one-third of its targeted goal of becoming 100-percent sustainable. More than 43% of (25,987 vineyard acres) of the county’s 59,772 vineyard acres have completed a sustainability assessment. In addition, 33% of the county’s vineyard acres (21,491 vineyard acres) have taken the next step and are now certified under a third-party auditor program. The 59,772 vineyard acres in Sonoma County only account for 6% of the county’s one million acres with the rest being used as pasture land (36%), forests (49%) and urban land (9%). More than 950 winegrape growers have attended sustainability workshops, meetings or other sustainability-related events.

In nearby Mendocino County, Fetzer Vineyards has been executing its own sustainability strategy: The winemaker announced in November that it had received platinum level Zero Waste certification from the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC). Platinum certification, the highest level offered by the USZWBC, recognizes Fetzer for successfully diverting 97.7 percent of its waste from landfill, incineration and the environment.

Elsewhere in California, winemaker Truett-Hurst last year completed a general supply agreement with Ecologic Brands to produce paper bottles for its PaperBoy brand. The recyclable wine bottles are made from compressed recycled cardboard formed into the shape of a standard Bordeaux wine bottle, are 85 percent lighter than traditional glass bottles and are filled with appellation wines sourced from the Mendocino and Paso Robles growing regions.

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