Climate Action Offsetter: Sokol Blosser Winery Achieves Carbon Reduction, Works Toward Carbon Restoration

February 6, 2012

written by Sokol Blosser Winery

In 2007 Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski initiated a challenge to the Oregon wine industry: “Make 20 wineries carbon neutral in 18 months.”  As one of the founding wineries in Oregon and a leader in sustainability, Sokol Blosser Winery was one of the first to sign up.

We felt the first step was to better understand Sokol Blosser Winery’s carbon footprint.  An initial carbon audit through Ecos Consulting in 2009 let us know where changes needed to be made.  We were able to reduce our carbon footprint dramatically through a combination of reducing waste, reducing energy usage, and implementing recovery efforts which include our 25kW solar panel system, native plant riparian zones in the vineyard, and carbon offset purchases.

There are several ways we have invested in renewable energy and carbon offset projects.  In 2010, we offset 22 metric tons of carbon through the PGE Clean Wind Program.  We also use to help us offset the carbon value of shipping wine directly to customers.  These offsets include investments in clean energy supported by the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF).  Essentially, this allows our packages to arrive at a customer’s door with zero carbon footprint from shipping.  Also, alongside other participating wineries in the Carbon Neutral Challenge, we have purchased other offsets through BEF in the agriculture sector that have significant climate benefits, such as investments in a dairy methane digester project registered with the Reserve.  The dairy digester facilitates the breakdown of methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas.

Sokol Blosser now undergoes detailed yearly carbon reporting through The Climate Registry, which highlights our carbon usage and recovery each year.  Reporting our carbon usage to a certifying agent adds legitimacy to a statement like carbon neutrality, something we feel is important for any claim that carries a marketing benefit.  However, we feel that being carbon neutral is not enough to reverse the damage that has already been done to our environment.  Our next goal after reaching full carbon neutrality is carbon restoration, or the reversing of negative effects.

The wine industry is a great place to initiate a movement toward this way of thinking because it is largely populated with forward thinking people who are tied to the land.  It is an agriculture-based industry with a major tourism component, which gives us an opportunity to teach as well as execute.  For Sokol Blosser, we are still in the carbon reduction stage.  We are working to better understand the full range of environmental implications of our business.  If you consider only what we own and operate, our carbon footprint is rather small.  What about the companies that ship our wine?  What about the air travel our sales people use?  Who is responsible for that – is it the winery or the companies that profit from it?  These are the tricky questions we continue to explore as we work towards our ultimate goal of carbon restoration.

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