As they move closer to their quest to become the first 100% sustainable winegrowing region, Sonoma County Winegrowers announced they are expanding their efforts in 2016 to focus on the socially-responsible component of sustainability with the relaunch of the Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation. The Foundation will work with a number of community-based organizations and government agencies to provide resources and support for agricultural employees and their families.
“Our Foundation will seek to bridge the gap between existing programs and the individuals who should benefit them in the areas of healthcare, affordable housing, childcare and education,” said Karissa Kruse, president of Sonoma County Winegrowers. She added, “Sonoma County Winegrowers are very proud to be recognized as a global leader in sustainability and we are committed to becoming the agricultural leader for social sustainability in the years ahead.”
The Foundation was first established in 2002 to focus on employee education and safety. Following a year of discussion and planning on the best means for positively impacting the lives of agricultural employees in the county, the boards of both the Sonoma County Winegrowers and the Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation met in December and voted to relaunch the foundation which will be managed by the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission.
“I am impressed with the Sonoma County Winegrower’s visionary approach and leadership to help their employees gain access to the important services they need, such as healthcare and affordable housing, and we look forward to partnering with them to improve our community,” said Brian Vaughn, Director of Health Services Health Policy, Planning and Evaluation (HPPE) Division, County of Sonoma. He added, “We look forward to beginning a dialogue among key stakeholders within our community to address some of Sonoma County’s critical issues.”
Sonoma County Winegrowers has developed a recent tradition of making major announcements at its annual Dollars and $ense Seminar and Tradeshow. Two years ago, the Sonoma County Winegrowers generated national news when it boldly announced it would become the nation’s first 100% sustainable winegrowing region by 2019. The march towards its 100% goal picked up major momentum in 2015 according to the findings in the just-released Second Annual Sustainability Report. With the target date of 2019 for 100% compliance, more than half of Sonoma County’s vineyard acreage has been certified by a third-party auditor putting the effort well ahead of original projections.
In 2015, the organization unveiled its 100-year business plan which it developed to preserve agriculture in Sonoma County well into the 22nd century. The 100-year plan is believed to be the first of its kind in agriculture and the global wine industry.