Santa Rosa-based Jackson Family Wines was awarded the 2016 California Green Medal Leader Award for leadership in sustainable winegrowing.
The Green Medal Leader Award (greenmedal.org) was presented April 20 in Sacramento by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, the California Association of Winegrape Growers, Wine Institute, Lodi Winegrape Commission, Napa Valley Vintners, Sonoma County Winegrowers and The Vineyard Team (Sustainable in Practice).
Central Coast operations Halter Ranch Vineyard and Tablas Creek Vineyard won in the Environment and Community categories at the second annual event. McManis Family Vineyards from the Central Valley won the business award.
The Green Medal Leader award is given to the vineyard or winery that best demonstrates excellence in balancing the three E’s of sustainability: environmentally sound, socially equitable, and economically viable. The Leader category is the exemplary achievement in all of the three categories.
“We are honored to receive the 2016 Green Medal Leader Award and to be recognized for Jackson Family Wines’ long standing commitment to sustainability, which has been deeply rooted since the beginning,” said Katie Jackson. “I am proud to be part of a family that is so devoted to quality, land stewardship and responsible practices and to be part of a wine community that embraces opportunities to make a positive difference. My family hopes to lead in sustainability in a way that will inspire meaningful conversations about improving how we all make wines.”
Founded by Jess Jackson in 1982, the company points to its early adoption of sensitive land management practices. The family formalized a sustainability strategy in 2008 that includes innovative water- and energy-management initiatives as well as ample open space.
Today, all of the Jackson family’s vineyards and wineries in California and Oregon are certified sustainable, and the family pays a premium to growers for fruit from certified vineyards. Key elements of the sustainability strategy are leaving a large portion of properties wild to preserve biodiversity, collaborating with innovative companies such as Tesla to reduce energy demand, pioneering water-conservation processes and giving back to the communities where they live and do business.
This year Jackson Family Wines (kj.com) has become the biggest generator of solar energy in the U.S. wine industry.
Among the social initiatives is a volunteer program and foundation to serve as a safety net for employees in need.
Halter Ranch Vineyard (halterranch.com) owner Hansjorg Wyss preserved 1,700 acres of the Halter Ranch property, only planting 18 percent to vineyards. Also, the Wyss Foundation helps local communities and partners to conserve millions of acres.
Halter Ranch water conservation has halved irrigation usage. It captures rain and winery water, bringing more than 2 million gallons back to irrigation ponds. The 281 acres of vines have been farmed without removing oak trees or displacing existing wildlife and plant life.
Tablas Creek (tablascreek.com) was started in 1989 and is called a trendsetter in the Paso Robles winery community, hosting winery association workshops to share sustainability practices.
The winery has partnered with organizations such as Must! Charities, the local animal shelter, arts and youth sports organizations, and donated more than $100,000 to support local youth and arts programs since 2002.
Tablas employees are compensated beyond the industry standard with fully funded medical, dental and vision benefits, employer-matching 401k plan, educational support, wine shares and annual profit-sharing bonuses to both part-time and full-time employees; and are encouraged to continue education.
Caption for the award-winners photo: Accepting the California Green Medal Awards at the Sacramento ceremony on April 20, 2016, were, from left, Lucas Pope of Halter Ranch Vineyard, Katie Jackson of Jackson Family Wines, Jason Haas of Tablas Creek Vineyard, and Dirk Heuvel of McManis Family Vineyards. (greenmedal.org)