Oregon winery carbon reduction program grows up
By Lee van der Voo, Sustainable Business Oregon
Sustainable Business Oregon
Oregon wineries are poised for an even bigger spotlight in the national fight against global warming.
Beginning in 2011, when a voluntary carbon reduction program becomes a full-fledged certification process, these winemakers will leapfrog ahead to become the first in the world to develop an industry-specific program.
It isn't just cute labels and talking points.
A new $92,000 grant expected from the United States Department of Agriculture will evolve the Oregon Environmental Council’s Carbon Neutral Challenge by funding the development of long-term certifications for wineries that remain carbon neutral, and others that follow their lead.
The new certification, called Climate Pioneers, will build on the success of the 14 wineries that completed the Carbon Neutral Challenge in April — a list that included three of the state’s largest wineries: Willamette Valley Vineyards of Turner, King Estate Winery of Eugene, and A to Z Wineworks of Dundee.
Through the challenge, the wineries reduced their carbon emissions by retooling practices in their vineyards and wineries, an effort that called for solar panels, retrofitted lighting, tank insulations and even using goats and raptors instead of lawnmowers and pesticides. The wineries also purchased carbon offsets to neutralize their remaining emissions, which built a methane digester for a dairy farm in Boardman.
Looking ahead, as many as a dozen new wineries are predicted to jump into the program following the USDA funding for its development.
Salem-based LIVE, Low Input Viticulture Enology Inc., is tasked with crafting the program will oversee Climate Pioneers. The 11-year-old agency also runs a sustainability certification for wineries with third-party backing from Europe.
Lee van der Voo, lvdvoo*at*gmail.com, is a freelance writer for Sustainable Business Oregon.
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