The Importance of Sustainability in Winemaking
Sustainability is what allows wineries to improve the quality of the earth and preserve the soil for vintages to come. We want to dive into the sustainable practices used within the Chehalem Mountains and highlight three of our members who maintain earth-friendly practices and dedicate their time to continuously incorporate sustainability into the wine they produce.
Robert Gross and his daughter Barbara Gross, are the names behind the success of Copper Mountain. A family that believes “Our land is our life and our life is our wine.” In 1987, the family started their own label, and from the beginning used organic and biodynamic farming practices throughout their viticulture process. An organic bottle of wine is made with organically grown grapes without any added sulfites. Organic grapes focus on minimizing the use of synthetic compounds that help the grape grow, which decreases the overall added chemical pollution to the environment. In addition to preserving the grape itself, biodynamic farming aims to retain soil health by incorporating compost and crop/grazing rotations. Two important certificates that represent Copper Mountain’s identity include receiving the organic certification from Oregon Tilth in 1995 and certification from Demeter for biodynamic farming in 1999. Copper Mountains’ commitment to vineyard management is followed by several rules that fall into seven different categories; heritage, irrigation, prevention/repression, disease, the law of the minimum, homeopathy and the wines.
Learn more about biodynamic farming here!
Originally a Christmas tree farm, Rain Dance Vineyards has a total of 120 acres across five estate vineyards. In 2009, Ken Austin III and his wife, Celia, planted their first vines on the estate and were committed to preserving the land while embracing the sun, notable rainfall and rich soil. The eco-friendly member winery prioritizes sustainable practices through dry farming, along with being Salmon Safe and LIVE certified. Dry farming is the process of growing grapes without an irrigation system. This water-saving method is not only good for the earth but also makes the grapevines stronger and more resistant to disease. A vineyard that is Salmon Safe reduces land runoff, focuses on water quality protection and enhances the native biodiversity on vineyard sites. This ecologically sustainable viticulture certificate partners with Low Input Viticulture and Enology (LIVE) to create farm standards that winegrowers utilize to promote land management. Rain Dance Vineyards are “humble stewards to the land” and continue to appreciate the strong soils that produce wines with great structure.
Learn more about if Salmon-Safe certification is right for your vineyard here!
The Bergström enology process takes three years to farm, ferment and age before it can be found on the shelves all due to the respect for soil and land where the grapes are grown. This resembles the Bergström family and work mantra, “1000 days of effort.” With close attention to detail and carefully chosen practices, the 70 acres of ecosystem across 5 estate vineyards has been farmed without the use of herbicides, pesticides, or insecticides and continues to treat soils with homeopathic herbal and mineral teas. Bergström Wines uses handmade compost mixed with local and organic straw, cow manure, curative herbs, seeds, stems and vines from previous vintages. Living in a green state means protecting all of Oregon’s pastures, forests, streams, rivers, fields, vineyards and orchards, which is at the forefront of Bergström’s mind.
Sustainability in the wine industry starts with the vineyard choosing to make changes, implementing those changes and measuring the success of those changes. Not only do these efforts take place in the field, but the same goes for the packaging and distribution of the wine. These three Chehalem Mountain Winegrowers member wineries are just a few of many that continue to consciously make an effort to protect the environment through organic farming, biodynamic farming, and dry farming, while being Salmon Safe and LIVE certified. Sustainability is more than just being able to produce good wine.