Sonoma County Winegrowers plan to form the Sonoma County Center for Ag Sustainability to foster its goal of 100% sustainability in the Sonoma County wine industry, as well as to support its ”100-Year Business Plan to Preserve Agriculture.”
As first step in a two-year effort, the group stated it has hired Geoffrey T. Boisi, professor emeritus at The Wharton School of Business and co-director of the Mack Institute for Innovation Management. He will “facilitate and manage the strategic planning” of the center.
It also laid out a timetable for the think tank’s activity, promising in the first six months to create a “diverse group” of experts in the field “who can bring new thinking to one of the oldest professions in the world.” The center will hold a retreat with the winegrowers’ board of directors and, starting in June, will hold meetings every four months “to determine insights, innovations and recommendations on moving the grape growers forward” and publish a white paper at the end of the two years.
Kevin Barr, Sonoma County Winegrowers’ board chairman and owner of Redwood Empire Vineyard Management Company, lauded the industry’s progress since the organization announced a goal in 2014 to become a 100% sustainable winegrowing region by 2019.
He added, “Sustainability is critical to maintaining our agricultural heritage and ensuring our vineyards thrive for generations to come, while also providing Sonoma County with a significant point of differentiation in the global marketplace for consumers.”
As for the role of preserving agriculture in the county, the announcement quoted Karissa Kruse, president of the Sonoma County Winegrowers. “We have long recognized that our job as farmers is to preserve and protect our agricultural legacy and way of life for future generations. The reality is that ag is on the brink of a crisis. Not only are thousands of acres of farmland being lost to development in California every year, but there are serious threats to the financial viability of our businesses due to increased regulations, rising labor costs, new overtime requirements, drought and more.”
Sonoma County’s Sustainability Report Card
• 49,577 vineyard acres (85%) of Sonoma County’s 58,235 vineyard acres have been sustainably self-assessed;
• 34,654 vineyard acres (60%) of Sonoma County’s 58,235 vineyard acres have been certified sustainable by a third-party audit; and,
• More than 1,200 vineyard properties in Sonoma County are sustainable by either completing their sustainability self-assessment or receiving third party certification; and,
• More than 40 wineries are certified sustainable.
Source: Sonoma County Winegrape Commission