Vineyard recognized for its sustainability efforts
A Newberg-area winery will receive an award recognizing its commitment to sustainability next week.
Adelsheim Winery vineyard manager Kelli Gregory will receive the "Excellence in Sustainability" award from Low Input Viticulture and Enology (LIVE), an organization that supports environmentally and social responsible winegrowing through third party certification and education.
Gregory said one of the things that sets Adelsheim apart from other larger vineyards is they are making a shift to stop using herbicides at the vineyard. She said LIVE is evaluating whether they want to include herbicides in their program, as you can still spray and be a member. She added that they employ what the industry calls "integrative pest management," meaning they try as many alternatives before spraying products on the vineyard.
"But I've made a commitment to shift away from that because I believe it helps with the health of the vineyard and the health of the soil," Gregory said.
Another practice Adelsheim employs is habitat and ecosystem management. The winery maintains the soil to ensure there is a good ecosystem beneath it, which is not something a lot of vineyards around the area do.
"We're always focused on erosion and maintaining soil and preventing erosion," Gregory said, adding that every year they plant cover crops during the rainy seasons. The blend of plants help build the structure of the soil, and those plants eventually break down into a fertilizer.
"We're basically increasing the soil fertility with our own soil rather than adding a conventional fertilizer," she said.
Adelsheim also has installed a "deer corridor," an access point to allow deer to access the nearby forest and not fragment their habitat. They also have birdboxes throughout the property for native birds to improve the ecosystem of the vineyard.
Related to habitats, Gregory said vineyard workers pay attention to where they're mowing, so if certain plants are in bloom or there's a good habitat for nesting birds or other species, they'll delay mowing.
"Everything we're doing is looking at it from the whole farm," she said, adding "and understanding one thing we might be doing could have an impact downstream."
After pruning, some wood has carbon and nitrogen in it. While some wineries will remove it and burn the wood, Gregory said Adelsheim doesn't view that as a good practice. Instead, they will pulverize that wood with a mower until it looks like mulch, which then breaks down and is incorporated into the soil.
Gregory said it was an honor to be recognized with the LIVE award, adding it felt good to be recognized for the work the winery is doing.
"I think it's more of an honor that this award exists, that LIVE exists, that a lot of vineyard acres are being farmed this way," she said, adding it takes time, resources and money to be in the program. "We're doing it because we feel good about it."
The award, presented April 17, comes almost a week ahead of Earth Day, a worldwide event to promote environmental protection. But Adelsheim is taking it a step further, as during April they have a sustainability theme at the vineyard. As such, they are donating 10 percent of proceeds from their Willamette Valley Rosé to Growing Gardens, a nonprofit organization that helps teach methods and implementations for best practices of growing gardens. The group goes into schools, homes and correctional facilities to help teach people to grow their own food.
Gregory, who initially wanted to study to become and landscape architect and install sustainable landscapes at resorts, said she fell in love with Oregon and its pinot noir when backpacking here, and decided to study.
"When I think back of what I could be doing, I'm super proud (of where I am)," she said, adding she feels that she's making a bigger impact than if she had stayed with landscape architecture. "We are legitimately making a difference."
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