Why did you decide to certify your vineyards through Sustainable WA?
Patrick Rawn (PR): We chose to become certified for a couple of reasons. The first is simply the resiliency of our farm for ourselves and future generations. This depends on us continuing to take care of this place, our team and our community, as past generations have. We have always prided ourselves on doing those things, but becoming certified to a third party standard allowed us to not only ‘prove it’, but to benchmark our practices and build a roadmap for continuous improvement. Secondly, it was the best and most efficient way to tell our farming story to the end consumers. The wines being certified communicates something we are proud of to our consumers.
What does sustainability mean to you? Do you see this as a way to differentiate your grapes?
PR: Absolutely a way to differentiate our grapes to winemakers we work with as well as the end wine consumer. Sustainability means taking the long view to me in very simple terms. We need to make choices to stay competitive and profitable today but need to remember the time horizon farms operate in is generational.
Why is a certification important to your business?
PR: Being certified is a core part of our brand. We have always been an estate producer and have worked hard at communicating our agricultural values to our consumers. Being certified simplifies and streamlines that storytelling. Additionally the seal on the bottle tells that story when we are not standing there. We want our customers to trust us and know the work we put into caring for our farm, our employees and our community. Sustainable WA helps us achieve that. Sustainable WA helps us build trust with our customers.
Why is it important for Washington to have its own certification program?
PR: Farming is very much unique to the place in which it is taking place. Our pain points are different from other parts of the world. A program needs to be tailored to the region to address this specificity.
Why should a winery consider purchasing certified grapes?
PR: Very simply you should be purchasing certified fruit and labeling your wine as such because your customers care about this and one should care about what their customers care about. In the not too distance future buyers will demand certification.
This Q&A is part of our Sustainable WA Grower Stories series, which highlights the importance of the Sustainable WA certification program from the perspective of wine grape growers in Washington. Learn more about Sustainable WA at sustainablewa.com, and keep your eye out for the Sustainable WA label on wine bottles signifying a commitment to all aspects of sustainability.