New state program certifies wines as sustainable
Logo indicates that 97 percent of wine was grown in organic vineyards
By MITCH LIES
Oregon is moving forward with a program to certify sustainable wines and provide its wine industry with another way to differentiate itself from other wines.
That was the idea behind the launch last year of the Oregon Certified Sustainable Wine program.
"It was a matter of when we were presenting ourselves as an industry to any kind of audience -- be it the press or buyers -- we always liked to talk about sustainability as one of the things the Oregon wine industry was into," said Pat Dudley of Bethel Heights Vineyard in Salem.
Until recently, however, the industry didn't have a signature sustainable certification.
"We wanted a platform to talk about shared sustainability," Dudley said.
In the Oregon Certified Sustainable Wine program, wineries certified under one of four organic or sustainable programs are eligible for the certification.
Among program requirements, 97 percent of fruit in a bottle must have been grown in vineyards certified under one of the programs -- Food Alliance, Low Input Viticulture and Enology, the Demeter biodynamic certification program or USDA Organic Certification. The wine also must have been produced in a facility certified by one of the four programs.
The program is administered by the Oregon Wine Board.
Under the program, individual bottling lots are certified. Qualifying lots receive Oregon Certified Sustainable Wine logos that can be placed on labels.
The hope is the program provides Oregon wine an edge -- both in terms of access to markets and in marketing to consumers who look for sustainably produced products.
Many wine retailers, Dudley said, are requiring their suppliers obtain sustainable certifications by independent, third-party certifiers.
More than providing the industry an with edge, program participants said their true motivation was more basic:
"Making wine more sustainably is the right thing to do," said Joe Dobbes, founder of Dobbes Family Estate winery.