Vineyard Team celebrates 20th anniversary
Founders to be honored with Legacy Award at celebration
Celebrating 20 years as an organization dedicated to sustainable winegrowing, the Vineyard Team will honor its founders with the inaugural Legacy Award at this year’s 10th Annual Sustainable Ag Expo. What began as a group of innovative farmers wanting to challenge and improve their own farming decisions, evolved to a nationally recognized organization with several progressive projects: Sustainability in Practice Certification, Sustainable Ag Expo, Earth Day Food and Wine Weekend, and various research and education programs.
In 1994 a group of grape growers, wineries and resource professionals developed an organization dedicated to sustainable winegrowing, currently known as the Vineyard Team. Since inception, with a myriad of programs that advance the industry’s commitment to forward thinking farming practices, the organization has been a leader of resource protection for vineyards and wineries by addressing the three pillars of sustainability – social, environmental and economic responsibility.
“It has been gratifying to see sustainability move to the forefront of decision making in the vineyard. From what was a bit of an abstract concept to now a third party- measureable system, the Vineyard Team has done it starting with growers. As a result, it has real world practicality and utility with buy in from the agricultural community,” says Dana Merrill, Vineyard Team founding member and owner of Mesa Vineyard Management.
Over the years, the group’s impact expanded beyond the Central Coast: 34,000 acres throughout the state are certified in the Sustainability in Practice Certification Program; 1.5M cases of wine carry the SIP seal; farmers representing 250,000 acres attend the Sustainable Ag Expo; and 1,500 people attend the Earth Day Food and Wine Weekend. The organization boasts a membership representing 80,000 acres, and more than 1,000 people are reached annually through the field days and workshops. Over the years, the group’s innovative work has been recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Pesticide Regulation, and Regional Water Quality Control Board, to name a few.
The 10th Annual Sustainable Ag Expo held at the Madonna Inn Expo Center on Nov. 17-18 focuses on “Balancing Water, Soil, and Nutrient Resources for Long Term Sustainability.” Along with many environmental themes applicable for decision makers of a variety of crops, the Expo presents educational programs for Spanish speaking employees. Through support from Pacific Gas and Electric Company, water related sessions will be conducted in Spanish.
The expo will celebrate these accomplishments and recognize its founders at its 20th Anniversary Legacy Award Ceremony. Honorees include: Don Ackerman, Constellation Brands; Mary Bianchi & Larry Bettiga, University of California Cooperative Extension; Janet Broome, PhD, formerly with the Department of Pesticide Regulation; Robert LaVine, formerly with Robert Mondavi Winery; David Lucas, Lucas Winery; Dana Merrill, Pomar Junction Vineyards & Winery; Steve McIntyre, McIntyre Vineyards; Neil Roberts, Clavo Cellars; Craig Rous, formerly with Robert Mondavi Winery; Rich Smith, Paraiso Vineyards. After the ceremony, guests will enjoy a reception featuring Vineyard Team member wines and innovative products and services featured at the Sustainable Ag Expo’s Exhibitor Showcase.