The first part of this article explained most of the certifications and criteria that make Oregon wines green. This article is about what wineries do to earn these certifications.
As the types of certifications grew in number, what they stood for became increasingly confusing to consumers. The Oregon Wine Board, in an effort to make it easier for consumers who wanted to buy green wines to do so, developed Oregon Certified Sustainable Wine so consumers only need to look for only one symbol.
This symbol means that both the vineyard where the grapes were grown and the winery where the wine was made have been certified sustainable.
Currently the following wineries/vineyards have been certified:
A to Z Wineworks / REX HILL Vineyards
Anam Cara Cellars
Anne Amie Vineyards
Bethel Heights Vineyard
Dobbes Family Estate
Domaine Drouhin Oregon
Faith, Hope and Charity Vineyard
King Estate Winery
Panther Creek Cellars
Patton Valley Vineyard
Penner-Ash Wine Cellars
Sokol Blosser Winery
Three Angels Wine Cellar, LLC
Torii Mor Winery
Willamette Valley Vineyards
Wooldridge Creek Winery
Youngberg Hill Vineyards & Inn
In addition to these there are many others that have one or more of the individual certifications. Seventeen wineries have completed the Carbon Neutral Challenge process to reduce their carbon footprint to zero.
As of 2010, there were 848 vineyard and 418 wineries in Oregon. The National Agricultural Statistics Service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, indicated in its 2011 Report that 17,500 acres of grapes from 72 grape varieties were harvested in Oregon. This is an enormous amount of land, all efforts made to reduce the impact winemaking has on the environment on this scale can’t help having an impact.
Sokol Blosser, one of Oregon’s oldest vineyards/wineries founded in 1971, was the first in the U.S. to receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for its gravity-flow winemaking techniques, energy-efficient heating and cooling, and waste-water reclamation to reduce negative environmental impact. Sokol Blosser is also certified organic by Oregon Tilth.
Stoller Vineyards is the first LEED Gold Certified vineyard with its amazing gravity-flow winemaking techniques; energy-efficient heating and cooling, and waste-water reclamation to reduce negative environmental impact.
King Estate winery has more solar panels than any other winery with 4,000 panels on just four acres. They produce enough energy to run the winery and produce enough extra to power 100 homes.
Soter Vineyards, one of the wineries to complete the Carbon Neutral Challenge, has increased recycling and composting; installed solar panels and a more efficient cooling system for fermentation tanks; reduced weight of the wine bottles by 50%; and retrofitted pumping systems with energy-efficient motor as a result of its participation in that program.
Willamette Valley Vineyards was the first winery in the world to use cork certified through the Rainforest Alliance to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standard. From its beginning Willamette Valley Vineyards has managed the vineyard to control runoff and erosion. One of its more unique features it that it gives its employees a gallonage stipend of biofuel to use in the cars they use to commute.
The few individual wineries mentioned here are far from the only ones making meaningful contribution to the environment and their communities. Some on the interesting things being done include:
Using recycled glass and recycled paper products for their packaging materials
Cleaning and drying grape seeds, stems, and skins to use as feed for cattle or as compost
Providing an organic garden for employees and other employee benefits.
Using native flowers as cover crops to attract pollinators
Offering a 10 cent refund for bottles returned for the winery
Oregon’s wineries have become green and are passionate about it. They encourage each other to try new things and adopt new practices. With its 15 approved winegrowing regions, Oregon is likely to be a favored place for growing grapes with an eye toward being kind to our Mother Earth for years to come.