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Why Does Sustainability Matter to Wineries?

Wine is created from the land on which our grapes grow. The soil and microclimate is of paramount importance to the quality of what we produce. Therefore, it is critical that we protect it. The goal of sustainability is to strike a balance between stewardship of the land and the operating practices that keep the business running. The basic principles of sustainable farming and wine making are to:

  • Consider the farm and winery as a whole system and take responsibility for its long term viability
  • Promote soil stability, health, and fertility
  • Respect natural processes, reducing or eliminating use of synthetic inputs in the vineyard and the winery
  • Conserve natural resources, including water and energy, in both vineyard and winery
  • Encourage biodiversity and protect wildlife habitat
  • Protect the health and well being of workers in the vineyard and the winery

Independent third-party certification promotes adherence to high standards, connection to worldwide networks of sustainability research, and measurable criteria to evaluate our progress. There are three major certification organizations for the Oregon wine industry:

LIVE certified Low Input Viticulture and Enology. (www.livecertified.org) LIVE is a certification program developed in 1997 by an independently incorporated organization of Oregon winegrowers.  LIVE is certified internationally by the International Organization for Biological Control (IOBC), which sets an international standard for sustainable farming practices. LIVE certification is a three-year process. A point system for ecological options requires growers to demonstrate continual improvement in diversification of the agro-ecosystem, and reductions in the use of fuels and chemical inputs such as pesticides and fertilizers.  Regular third party inspections are required to maintain certification

USDA Certified Organic.  Organic food/wine production is based on a system of farming that mimics natural ecosystems and maintains and replenishes the fertility of the soil.  Organic foods and wines are produced without the use of synthetic chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Organic foods and wines are minimally processed to maintain the integrity of the food without artificial preservatives or irradiation.  Organic foods are not genetically engineered. Organic certification requires on-site inspections, legally binding contracts, detailed record keeping and periodic testing of soil, water, and produce to ensure that growers and processors are meeting the standards of the USDA National Organic Program.

Salmon Safe (www.salmonsafe.org) is a corollary certification that is usually achieved in conjunction with one of the comprehensive certification programs. Salmon Safe certifies farming practices that restore and protect healthy streams and rivers, focusing especially on control of soil erosion and runoff, and on maintaining buffer zones in riparian areas to protect water quality.

At Et Fille Wines, we believe that sustainable farming is vital to the long-term health of the Oregon wine industry.  Our vineyard partners believe in this also. 

Deux Vert Vineyard: Sustainably farmed and member of LIVE. Its farming philosophy is to take the best practices from various farming approaches (organic, biodynamic, etc.), but not be restricted by any one of them. It is a dry farmed, non-tilled vineyard.

Kalita Vineyard:  Certified member of LIVE

Fairsing Vineyard:  Certified member of LIVE and Salmon Safe programs. No pesticides or persistent herbicides are utilized.  The vineyard has a diverse ecosystem, including 80 acres dedicated to a Certified Family Forest. The site is a micro-watershed with numerous streams supplying the Chehalem Creek. Green reserves adjacent to vineyard blocks are maintained to enhance biodiversity.

Palmer Creek: Certified Sustainable Vineyard by LIVE and Salmon Safe programs.

Maresh Vineyard:  Organically farmed on vines planted in 1982. 

Le Pavillon: Biodynamic