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Sonoma County Winegrowers Field Day Takes Comprehensive View on Sustainability

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Friday, August 8th the Sonoma County Winegrowers held their 14th annual field day with a focus on sustainable winegrowing. The event filled the Agricultural Pavilion at Santa Rosa Junior College’s Shone Farm for a day of learning and networking.

It’s been 6 months since the Sonoma County Winegrowers announced their ambitious goal of being 100% sustainable in 5 years, and the agenda for this year’s field day reflected the scope and commitment to that goal. The speaker topics included not only presentations directly related to vineyard practices like Red Blotch disease updates, endangered species and pesticides, and quality control of nursery vines, but also issues related to the broader scope of sustainability.

Michael Saqui of the Saqui Law Group spoke about sustainability through human resource management. His key points included measures to secure a stable and sustainable workforce, and he lauded the winegrowers for already being the best at this by having the labor force with the longest tenure in agriculture. Saqui also emphasized that the profitability of a business is key to its sustainability, and that excellent HR management could serve winegrowers doubly by also being a branding asset.

Good neighbor relations was also on the agenda with advice for dealing with local residents, institutions and even bees. The speakers emphasized the value of opening a dialog, and the Sonoma County Winegrowers produced a postcard that can help vineyards be good neighbors by letting their neighbors know that harvest is in progress.

Dr. Eric Mussen of UC Cooperative Extension spoke of the plight of bees and what winegrowers can do, especially in regard to pesticide use, to not make matters worse for neighboring beekeepers. Though bees are not necessary for pollination of vines, a third of the human diet is reliant upon this process, and efforts to support that ecosystem, benefit us all.

The day ended with a hands-on workshop on inspecting nursery vine health lead by Laura Breyer of Breyer IPM Vineyard Services. Though certified vines are virus free, they may have other problems that may be caught with a final quality check before they go into the ground.


By Kim Johannsen

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