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North Fork Wineries Recognized For Sustainability

One of LISW's principle tenets is that wineries should work in harmony with the natural world to build a community between vineyards, workers and the land.

Photo Credit: W Studios New York
Photo Credit: W Studios New York
Local wineries have made great strides toward going green and embracing sustainability.

Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing, Inc. announced this week that for the firt time, 10 vineyards in the eastern United States have earned certified sustainable status.

The ten vineyards, with over 400 acres of grapes between them, were officially designated as "certified sustainable" for the 2012 vintage.

On the North Fork, Bedell Cellars in Cutchogue, Harbes Family Vineyard in Mattituck, One Woman Wines & Vineyards in Southold, Sannino Bella Vita Vineyard in Peconic, and Shinn Estate Vineyards in Mattituck were recognized.

In Riverhead, Martha Clara Vineyards, Palmer Vineyards and Roanoke Vineyards received the nod.

And on the South Fork, Channing Daughters Winery in Bridgehampton and Wölffer Estate Vineyard were chosen.

To mark the milestone in the 40-year history of Long Island wines, a celebration will be held on Thursday, June 6, from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. at Bedell Cellars in Cutchogue.

To earn sustainable farming certification, the 10 vineyards successfully implemented a comprehensive checklist of nearly 200 sustainable grape-growing practices that included thoughtful vineyard planning, encouraging and prohibiting materials and practices, and numerous ecological management options.

The goal of technical farming standards is to aim for and maintain healthy farmland soils, conserve Long Island’s delicate maritime and estuary ecosystems, and protect ground and surface waters from leaching and runoff, according to a release sent out by LISW. 

In addition to implementing a comprehensive technical checklist, certified sustainable vineyards signed a vow to abide by 15 important sustainability guidelines that were created to foster stewardship of Long Island’s historic farmlands for future generations.

A hallmark of the LISW certification program is the use of an independent, third-party inspector: Allan Connell, former District Conservationist  for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service, was chosen for the task.

For his work, Connell used the New York VineBalance Grower Workbook as a roadmap; the VineBalance Workbook is recognized and endorsed by the Agricultural Environmental Management Program of the New York State Soil & Water Conservation Committee and New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets.

Seven other Long Island Vineyards joined LISW in 2013 and are "in transition" toward future certification. These include Mudd Vineyards, Sparkling Pointe, Kontokosta Winery, Water Mill Vineyard, Surrey Lane Vineyard, Mattebella Vineyards, and Lieb Cellars.

A core working group of Long Island wineries participated in the inception of LISW, including Bedell Cellars, Channing Daughters Winery, Martha Clara Vineyards, and Shinn Estate Vineyards. The founding partners worked in conjunction with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County to write and codify specific sustainable grape growing guidelines.  

“The announcement of our first certified sustainable vineyards strengthens the ecological leadership and social responsibility of the Long Island wine region,” said Richard Olsen-Harbich, winemaker at Bedell Cellars. “The effort of creating meaningful, rigorous sustainable farming standards for grape growers proves that Long Island wineries are serious about making world-class wines that are also ecologically sensitive.”

Sustainable winegrowers have implemented similar programs in Oregon and California -- but Long Island's ecosystem has been recognized as especially fragile due to the proximity of creeks and bays.

“We farm historic lands that are part of an important watershed, and the Long Island sustainable standards are guiding local viticulturists toward more natural methods of farming,” said Barbara Shinn, co-owner and viticulturist of Shinn Estate Vineyards. “Key aspects of achieving certification include addressing our vineyards as living systems, setting aside biological compensation areas on the farm, and farming transparently and mindfully. By integrating science, personal farming knowledge and creative problem solving we have transformed outdated practices into ones that harmonize with our surrounding ecosystem. Today’s announcement is an important step toward protecting our creeks and bays and good stewardship of our healthy soils.”

One of LISW's principle tenets is that wineries should work in harmony with the natural world to build a community between vineyards, workers and the land.

“We have worked to create a pathway and a process for dialogue among viticulturists interested in maintaining our clean water and air, a healthy workforce, healthy soils and healthy vines,” said Larry Perrine, CEO and partner of Channing Daughters Winery. “Throughout this process we have enhanced the viability of our vineyards through certification standards that are rooted in an integrated ecological system. By achieving certification today, we have demonstrated that we can produce the highest quality fruit possible, on par with world class standards for quality, while also being good stewards of our land and economically viable over time.”

Many viticultural “best practices” have been embraced among the area's grape growers since the first plantings in 1973.

“Over the past 40 years, Long Island vineyard managers have developed unique and safe practices for producing quality wine grapes and have now created the first fully certified, third-party verified sustainable viticulture program in the eastern U.S.,” said Jim Thompson, vineyard manager at Martha Clara Vineyards. “I believe these efforts will have a big impact on the public perception of our industry and the results so far are compelling.”

forward thinking May 15, 2013 at 06:59 AM
what I find missing are the wineries that have installed electrical consumption reducing items. also we have the lowest grape per acre production - which is one of the major reasons it is not profitable for wineries to "sustain - existence" economically here.
forward thinking May 15, 2013 at 07:00 AM
without subsidizing their business through creative ideas - "parties etc....

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