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Sustainability and Stewardship in Oregon’s Wine Country

In 1985, Oregon pinot noir beat out competition from France for the top five slots in the prestigious international Burgundy Challenge.  This was cause for great celebration, as the decision of the judges was not only testimony to the skill and ability of Oregon’s winemakers, but also a triumphant vindication of Oregon’s decades-long commitment to responsible environmental stewardship.

Oregon’s climate and topography create the ideal conditions for making excellent wine, particularly the region’s signature Pinot Noir.  Oregonians have been making wines since the mid-nineteenth century but the region became a major player in the mid-twentieth century after David Lett planted the first pinot grapes in Oregon in 1965.

The winemakers of the 1960s were also pioneering environmentalists, who recognized that Oregon was one of the few places where the soil had not been heavily polluted with chemical fertilizers and pesticides, making it a uniquely ecologically balanced environment.  Oregon’s winemakers determined to keep it that way, and pass this gift down to subsequent generations.  Today, an impressive 52% of Oregon’s planted vineyards are certified under one of the three certification programs:  LIVE (Low Impact Viticulture and Enology), Certified Organic, and Certified Biodynamic.  Although the three programs differ in their criteria, they share a set of important core principles:

+ Consider the farm and winery as a whole system and take responsibility for the health and long-term viability of the whole.
+ Encourage biodiversity and protect wildlife habitat on the farm.
+ 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.
+ Protect the health and well being of workers in the vineyard and the winery, and the larger community.

Oregon has led the nation in their ongoing commitment to producing top quality wine that reflects the state’s values and sense of place: Oregonian vintages are made in synergy with nature and with commitment to good stewardship of the land.  State legislation such as the bottle bill and the beach bill has reflected this commitment to preserve Oregon’s pristine ecology for future generations of prizewinning vintners.

Learn more about Oregon’s commitment to sustainable winemaking on Alexander + Roberts’s new itinerary to Our Pacific Northwest, a small group journey that visits the Willamette Valley for wine-tasting and seasonal farm-to-table cuisine.

Posted: 12/20/2016 1:28:10 PM by Alexander + Roberts