Why did you decide to certify your vineyards through Sustainable WA?
Elizabeth Keyser (EK): As a small, family-owned business, sustainability is our long-term strategy to the meet the demands of today without compromising our next generation’s ability to farm and enjoy the natural resources of the estate. We believe that farming with Sustainable WA certification results in better grapes & wine, while enriching the lives of those that work for us, enjoy our wines, and experience our properties in the Rocky Reach AVA.
What does sustainability mean to you? Do you see this as a way to differentiate your grapes?
EK: Sustainability means that we acknowledge and examine the environmental & community impact of our operations and are continuously striving to improve upon our practices in addition to respecting our financial bottom line. The Sustainable WA certification builds trust between growers and grape clients, and the eventual consumers of wine made from Sustainable WA certified grapes. The certification signals that we are committed to farming with environmentally sound, socially equitable and economically feasible practices.
Why is a certification important to your business?
EK: The Sustainable WA certification is a business imperative. The certification process requires rigorous self-examination of current practices with benchmarking 3rd party audits that highlight areas of improvement, enabling us to make decisions that maximize resource efficiency and promote financial stability. Sustainable WA certification also gives us access to leading research that helps us evolve and implement best practices that complement our generational knowledge of farming our estate vineyards.
Why is it important for WA to have its own certification program?
EK: It’s important for Washington to have its own certification program as a method for setting standards and recognizing good viticultural practices that are tailored to the unique climate and conditions of Washington state – in line with global Sustainability certification standards.
Why should a winery consider purchasing certified grapes?
EK: Very simply, Sustainable WA certification helps growers grow better grapes, which translates into better wine. Wineries can also take advantage of Sustainable WA marketability. As consumer preferences shift more in favor of “Sustainable”, Organic, and low intervention wines, having Sustainable WA certified grapes as the cornerstone of a blend (75% minimum), and the logo of certification on the bottle, helps that wine stand out to the conscientious consumer.
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.