Gallery: Checking in with Oregon's sustainable wineries

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  • Click through for a glimpse at some of Oregon's most sustainably minded wineries.

  • Anne Amie is LIVE certified in both its vineyards and winery. The company sources nearly all of its supplies — glass, boxes, Stelvin, labels, screen-printing — locally. "Many wineries practice green farming, yet get glass and boxes manufactured in China, or Mexico, where the humanitarian and environmental standards are not what they are here, let alone the carbon footprint of shipping the supplies," said Kim McLeod, the company's sales and marketing director. Oh yeah, the sheep pictured here are, by virtue of their diet, top-notch weed controllers.

  • Willamette Valley Vineyards' Jim Bernau (shown here on his tractor) maintains that wines made with consideration for the environment, his employees, and the community simply taste better. Bernau earned permission from the state's liquor commission in 2005 to include a ten cent recycling refund statement on its wine labels. It worked with Amorim Cork America, SOLV and Yemm & Hart on a nationwide recycling campaign. It recycles corks dropped off at its tasting room. Willamette also uses recycled paper throughout its facility and recycles its cardboard shippers, all plastic, aluminum, paper, and cardboard products. Plus, the vineyard offers 50 gallons of biodiesel a month to each employee at no cost. An employee environmental impact committee meets once a quarter to crunch green ideas. There's also this: Willamette works with the Oregon Environmental Council and the Oregon Wine Board on carbon neutrality efforts. One more thing: It's both LIVE- and Salmon Safe-certified.

  • WillaKenzie Estate's 400-plus acres produce popular pinots. However, there's more to the winery than that. WillaKenzie relies on compost, kelp, and cover crops among its vines. It encourages beneficial organisms such as earthworms and fungi that live in the soil. It uses organic fertilizers and fungicides rather than synthetic chemicals. And, WillaKenzie eschews chemical herbicides. "The longevity of the soil is greatly enhanced, and our workers’ exposure to chemicals is greatly minimized," said Kelly Navir, the winery's marketing manager. The LIVE-certified producer has also received sign-off from the OCSW. What's more, WillaKenzie recycles its winemaking by-products in a self-developed system that allows it to reuse some of the CO2 produced during fermentation.

    Andrea Johnson
  • Salem-based Bethel Heights Vineyard became one of the first Salmon Safe-certified vineyards in 1997. Two years later, it become LIVE-certified, which makes sense because Bethel Heights’ co-founder Ted Casteel is a LIVE co-founder. Among its strategies, Bethel Heights encourages biodiversity and protects wildlife habitat on its farm. It provides a buffer zone for water quality of the tributary stream running through it. Solar panels generate 40 percent of the energy used on the property. And employees such as Mimi Casteel, pictured above, subscribe to the vineyard's strict composting guidelines.

  • Stoller Family Estate definitely walks the sustainability walk. It's the first LEED Gold certified winery in North America. Its tasting room alone is a "net zero energy" space, with a 236-panel solar installation, wood from salvaged timbers, electric vehicle charging station and two nine-foot curtain walls that allow natural light and, as they open to a patio, cooling in the summer. Stoller is, naturally, both LIVE- and Salmon Safe-certified.

    Andrea Johnson
  • The Sokol Blosser clan is definitely one of the state's First Families of sustainability. Susan Sokol Blosser built the country's first LEED-certified winery. Her children Alison and Alex Sokol Blosser, who serve as co-presidents, have carried on the legacy, positioning the company's on-its-way tasting room — it'll open in July —as a contender for the strict Living Building Challenge designation. "This makes The New Tasting Room the first winery in the U.S. to support the values of, and, strive to fulfill, the most rigorous performance standard for the built environment," said Eileen Wong, a company spokeswoman.

  • Adelsheim is LIVE-certified in both its vineyards and winery. Its "whole farm" approach takes into account the types of sprays it uses, as well as soil compaction, energy use, worker health and safety, erosion and biodiversity in general.

  • Gaston-based Patton Valley Vineyard uses low-impact winemaking techniques built around sustainable farming and winemaking practices. It uses no herbicides, mechanically cultivates its weeds (which the company said enhances biodiversity and promotes the proliferation of natural systems for controlling pests) and treats its vines with organic compost from stems and grape skins culled via past fermentations. It also nurtures an array of wildlife, including birds and honeybees, and uses biodiesel tractor fuel. As far as packaging, Patton Valley bottles its wine in lightweight "eco-glass" bottles that require less fuel to transport.

  • Penner-Ash Wine Cellars knows how to LIVE. In attaining its LIVE certification, Penner-Ash monitors its energy and water usage, eschews the use of harsh chemicals in its winery, provides continuing sustainability education for its staff and deploys efficient, LED lighting throughout its facilities. During the summer, night purging keeps its primary building cool. And, its three-level gravity building also allows staff to move wine without heavy lifting or mechanical pumps.

  • Each of Ponzi Vineyards' 120 acres is LIVE-certified. The 43-year-old winery uses a gravity flow winemaking process, reuses its waste and storm water for irrigation, employs indirect natural lighting and energy efficient fluorescent lights and makes liberal use of solar panels. Plus, its landscaping features drought-resistant native plant species.

    Polara Studio
  • Domaine Drouhin installed a 94kw solar panel system in 2008 and is LIVE-certified in both its the vineyard and the winery. "In the end, it always seems to come down to personal dedication and daily commitment," said David Millman, Domaine Drouhin's managing director. "We're lucky that Philippe Drouhin" — of the operating family's fourth-generation — "is completely clear about the need to consider eco-consequences with every decision."