Wineries Honored for Environmental Efforts

fetzerWe’re continuing our end-of-the-week focus on wine and the environment by giving a round of applause to the winners of the first California Green Medal: Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Awards, which were announced and presented recently at the University of California at Davis.

Here are excerpts from the media release on the awards luncheon…

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The California Green Medal was developed by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, California Association of Winegrape Growers, Lodi Winegrape Commission, Napa Valley Vintners, Vineyard Team and Wine Institute as a way to showcase some of the leading wineries and vineyards committed to sustainability.

More than a dozen of California’s regional winery and winegrowing association partners also helped to promote the new awards, which were selected by a panel of wine and sustainability experts.

The Leader Award, given to the vineyard or winery that excels in the “3 E’s” of sustainability — Environmentally sound, socially Equitable and Economically viable — was presented to Fetzer Vineyards.

As a true pioneer in sustainability in the wine industry, Fetzer Vineyards has been blazing a trail for earth-friendly practices since 1968. Fetzer was the first winery in California to operate on 100% renewable energy in 1999, is the largest U.S. producer of organic winegrapes certified by CCOF, and the first Zero Waste certified wine company in the world.

Energy, water, waste, vineyard inputs, packaging, recycling and many other metrics have been measured at Fetzer since its early history. The company has a full-time sustainability manager and an eco-team made up of employees in all departments who work together to integrate sustainability innovations and activities.

The Environment Award, given to the vineyard or winery that best demonstrates environmental stewardship through maximized environmental benefits from implementing sustainable practices, went to Benziger Family Winery.

With all of its estate properties Demeter Certified Biodynamic, this family winery created “Farming for Flavors,” which was third-party certified by Stellar in 2007 before other sustainability certifications were available. Benziger also had the first Biodynamic wine in Sonoma County.

The winery holds annual “Hot Topic” seminars for growers that focus on water conservation, reduction in inputs, biodiversity, soil biology, composting and efficient use of equipment. Over the past two years, Benziger has focused on using technology and industry experts to learn more about practices that guarantee the most efficient use of resources.

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Tomorrow: A look at the winners of the Community Award and the Business Award.

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Posted in Wine and the Environment
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