Monday, May 13, 2013

Long Island Boasts East Coast's First Sustainable Certified Vineyards - 10 Vineyards Make Cut

This is very important. This certification separates, literally, the wheat from the chaff. For years wineries have been telling their customers that they were sustainable. Some of them when they were not. Now, on the east coast, there is a body set up to educate and certify vineyards for the best practices of this type of farming. These rigorous standards mean that there is a strong guiding principal being applied to the vineyard producing these wines. This is about safety of product, stewardship of the land, and quality in the glass. I applaud this organization and what it stands for. Below is a press release from the organization and an accompanying event in Long Island to discuss these practices and their value to the community and to the consumer.
- C. DeVito
Richard Olsen-Harbich and the other members of the LISW will be speaking on this important event, and discussing the LISW and it's role in vineyard management and practices.
June 6, 6-8PM at Bedell Cellars  


North Fork of Long Island and The Hamptons, Long Island, New York (May 9, 2013) Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing, Inc. (LISW), a not-for-profit organization that provides education and certification for Long Island vineyards, announces the first vineyards in the eastern U.S. to earn certified sustainable status. Ten vineyards comprising over 400 acres of grapes on the East End of Long Island have been officially designated as “certified sustainable” vineyards for the 2012 vintage: Bedell Cellars, Channing Daughters Winery, Harbes Family Vineyard, Martha Clara Vineyards, One Woman Wines & Vineyards, Palmer Vineyards, Roanoke Vineyards, Sannino Bella Vita Vineyard, Shinn Estate Vineyards, and W├Âlffer Estate Vineyard. This announcement is a significant milestone in the 40-year history of Long Island wines, and there will be a commemorative celebration on Thursday, June 6, from 6:00-8:00PM at Bedell Cellars in Cutchogue, for invited members of the press and New York wine industry.

To earn sustainable farming certification, these 10 vineyards successfully implemented a comprehensive checklist of nearly 200 sustainable grape growing practices that include thoughtful vineyard planning, encouraged and prohibited materials and practices, and numerous ecological management options. The primary goal of technical farming standards is to maintain healthy farmland soils, conserve Long Island’s delicate maritime and estuary ecosystems, and protect ground and surface waters from leaching and runoff. 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 respectful stewardship of Long Island’s historic farmlands for future generations.

A hallmark of the LISW certification program is the use of a rigorous, independent, third-party inspector: Allan Connell, former District Conservationist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). Mr. Connell used the New York VineBalance Grower Workbook as a roadmap for evaluating sustainable vineyard practices. The VineBalance Workbook that underpins LISW certification 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. In addition to the certified sustainable members of LISW, seven other Long Island vineyards joined LISW in 2013 and are “in transition” toward certification in the future. These transitional members are Mudd Vineyards, Sparkling Pointe, Kontokosta Winery, Water Mill Vineyard, Surrey Lane Vineyard, Mattebella Vineyards, and Lieb Cellars.

As the proud local wine district of New York City, Long Island wineries continue to raise the bar for eco-friendly farming practices. LISW is the first sustainable vineyard certification program in the eastern U.S. and was launched with the pioneering vision to unify viticultural science, world-class winemaking, and social responsibility. A core working group of leading Long Island wineries participated in the inception of LISW: Bedell Cellars, Channing Daughters Winery, Martha Clara Vineyards, and Shinn Estate Vineyards. These founding partners worked in conjunction with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County to write and codify specific sustainable grape growing guidelines for Long Islands two AVAs: the North Fork of Long Island and The Hamptons, Long Island.

LISW recognizes that social responsibility complements the high quality winemaking and natural beauty already associated with the Long Island wine region. “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.

Long Island winegrowers have joined a small but expanding group of sustainable winegrowers who care about the environment. Oregon and California have similar programs, but the Long Island ecosystem is particularly fragile due to its proximity to 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.”

LISW believes 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/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.

This initiative has a long history of development because many viticultural “best practices” have been finely tuned among the regions 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.”

A list of sustainable farming guidelines is available from LISW upon request, and more information can be found at, sustainablewinegrowing, and LISW has 501(c)(3) not-for-profit status pending approval. For more information about tasting the first certified sustainable Long Island wines and their market availability, please contact the individual wineries.