I am so thrilled to now be working as a Creative Consultant to the Sonoma County Winegrowers! It is exciting for me to be involved with so many iconic wine growing families in the county who have for generations passed on their farming traditions.  This new consultancy also puts me in the middle of conversations about shifts in wine growing  practices which I have observed evolving through the years.

Sustainability is the most recent term that has been appearing consistently in the consumer marketplace. The Sonoma County Winegrowers (SCW), announced back in January of 2014 that they were committed to becoming the nation’s first 100% sustainable wine region.  This was a big undertaking considering the number of winegrowers in Sonoma county!

Let’s examine briefly the difference between the practices of  sustainability versus organic and biodynamic farming.  Sustainability practices act as an ‘umbrella concept’ that can include both organic and biodynamic principles but are not required to be either.  A sustainable vineyard encompasses energy efficiency, environmental protection and enhanced relations with employees and the community.  Organic farming focuses on more restrictive uses of synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, and fungicides throughout the growing process.  Biodynamic farming takes organics a step further by focusing on farming in accordance with the earth’s seasons and rhythms.

At the core of sustainable farming there are three ‘pillars’ that really spell out the mission statement…’Planet, Profit & People’.  Planet addresses all of the environmental issues to ensure sound practices and good stewardship of the land.  Profit examines the practice of  being economically feasible.  People is the one that really sets sustainable practices apart by putting farmers focus on the needs and well being of their employees and the community at large.

Undertaking sustainable farming practices means a commitment by farmers to analyze their business with a finer lens and to constantly be monitoring a path for improvement. It is a newer ‘mind set’  that will help ensure good stewardship of the land and environment and help the community to embrace the ideals of this practice. Sonoma County has an unparalleled wine history and heritage of farm families who are striving to preserve their land for future generations. Striving for sustainability is the kind of good practice that trickles down from the vineyard to the winery, from the bottle to the consumer!