The California EPA and the California Governor Jerry Brown have awarded Fetzer Vineyards with the state's highest environmental honor, a Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award ("GEELA"), presented at a Sacramento awards ceremony December 5th.
Fetzer is the parent company of the country's most popular organically grown wine brand, Bonterra.
According to the California EPA:
This was accomplished through waste programs that streamlined the collection of recyclable items during production.
Fetzer Vineyards also composts all pomace left over from the winemaking process and later reintroduces these materials into their vineyards as nutrient-rich compost.
Fetzer Vineyards is recognized for their ability to reduce material consumption, mitigate negative impacts of solid waste, and create economic benefits for their business and the broader economy."According to Fetzer's press release, "Fetzer Vineyards began tracking and reporting waste in 1990 and became the world's first winery to achieve TRUE Zero Waste certification in 2014, with a diversion rate of over 98%. "
This is the third time Fetzer Vineyards has won a GEELA awards. (The other years were 2003 and 2008.)
"We are very pleased to receive this recognition," said Cindy DeVries, chief operating officer for Fetzer Vineyards, "as it underscores the importance of a focus on waste reduction as critical to our efforts to pursue climate-smart practices in our business."
|Bio Filtro BIDA system at Fetzer in Hopland, California|
One component of Fetzer's recycling is its Bio Filtro BIDA water recycling system which uses worm composting to clean water to meet EPA standards. Fetzer was the first U.S. winery to adopt this technology installing it in 2016 The system processes 15 million gallons of water. The process also produces a byproduct: 573 cubic meters (20,000+ cubic feet) of worm castings, a valuable vineyard nutrient.
So far, one other organic vintner, Frey Vineyards in Redwood Valley, has also ordered a BioFiltro system. The largest ag sector in California using BioFiltro is the dairy industry.
Said CalEPA Secretary Matthew Rodriquez. "From fighting climate change to reducing waste, [Fetzer's] successful efforts are proving that environmentally sustainable practices can grow and support a healthy economy."
The effects of climate change are hitting many wineries around the world, including in Mendocino which is home to Bonterra and Fetzer's winery in Hopland. The area is close to the epicenter of the Redwood Complex Fire, which began in Potter and Redwood Valleys northeast of Ukiah and decimated the nearby Frey Vineyard. It also killed 9 local residents.
The annual Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award is administered on behalf of the Governor's Office by the California Environmental Protection Agency, in partnership the California Natural Resources Agency, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the California State Transportation Agency, the California Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency, the California Government Operations Agency, the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, and the California Health and Human Services Agency.
Fetzer is also the first winery in the world to be TRUE certified, according to Stephanie Barger, director of market transformation and development, for TRUE at the U.S. Green Building Council. "They have demonstrated leadership in minimizing waste output and efficiently using resources, furthering our goal of developing a zero waste economy for all," she said.
Bonterra is the largest wine brand in the organic sector, making more than 500,000 cases of organically grown wine each year. (Fetzer makes 4 million). Bonterra's wines account for 25% of organically grown wine sales in the U.S.