Sonoma unveils 100-year business plan

A 100-year plan to preserve and develop sustainable agriculture in California’s Sonoma County into the 22nd century has been launched – believed to be the first plan of its kind in the agriculture and global wine industry.

Wine-Vinyard-Sonoma

Vineyard in Sonoma

The Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, also known as Sonoma County Winegrowers (SCW), unveiled its 100-year business plan today, which is aimed at protecting future generations of winegrowers in the region. It also cements the region’s continued efforts to become the first wine region in the United States to have all of its wines grown and made in a sustainable manner.

“Last year when we announced our intent to be 100% sustainable by 2019, it was always viewed as the starting point, not the end goal,” said Karissa Kruse, president of the Sonoma County Winegrowers. “It is our job as farmers to be caretakers of the land in Sonoma County and preserve our agricultural legacy and way of life for future generations. Just as we inherited the land from previous generations, we have a fundamental responsibility to make the land better for those who inherit it from us,” she added.

The 100-year plan has been designed to be a “living document” and will be executed through both annual and five-year benchmarks addressing issues including innovation and research, natural resources, the regulatory environment, community engagement and marketing and building coalitions throughout the community to support sustainable agriculture in Sonoma County.

“It provides us and those who follow with a set of guiding principles to ensure agriculture is successfully preserved and that Sonoma County will remain the best wine region in the world for the next 100 years and beyond”, said Brad Petersen, a third generation grape grower who manages vineyards at Silver Oak Cellars and chairman of the Sonoma County Winegrowers board of directors.

Sonoma County winegrape growers are currently carrying out sustainability self-assessments and a third party certification program focused on practices including land use, canopy management, energy efficiency, water quality assessments, carbon emissions, healthcare and training for employees and being a good neighbour and community member.

In the twelve months since announcing its intentions to become 100% sustainable by 2019, the local wine industry reached one-third of its target. More than 43% (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. However the county’s 59,772 vineyard acres in Sonoma County only accounts for 6% of the county’s one million acres, with the rest being utilized as pasture land (36%), forests (49%) and urban land (9%).

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