Drinking coffee may be associated with a lower risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a just-released study that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 67th Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, April 18 to 25, 2015.
“Caffeine intake has been associated with a reduced risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, and our study shows that coffee intake may also protect against MS, supporting the idea that the drug may have protective effects for the brain,” said study author Ellen Mowry, MD, MCR, with Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.
For the study, researchers looked at a Swedish study of 1,629 people with MS and 2,807 healthy people, and a U.S. study of 1,159 people with MS and 1,172 healthy people. The studies characterized coffee consumption among persons with MS one and five years before MS symptoms began (as well as 10 years before MS symptoms began in the Swedish study) and compared it to coffee consumption of people who did not have MS at similar time periods. The study also accounted for other factors such as age, sex, smoking, body mass index, and sun exposure habits.
The Swedish study found that compared to people who drank at least six cups of coffee per day during the year before symptoms appeared, those who did not drink coffee had about a one and a half times increased risk of developing MS. Drinking large amounts of coffee five or 10 years before symptoms started was similarly protective.
In the US study, people who didn’t drink coffee were also about one and a half times more likely to develop the disease than those who drank four or more cups of coffee per day in the year before symptoms started to develop the disease. “Caffeine should be studied for its impact on relapses and long-term disability in MS as well,” said Mowry.
The study was supported by the Swedish Medical Research Council, the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg, AFA, and Swedish Brain Foundations, the Swedish Association for Persons with Neurological Disabilities and the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Institute on Aging.
Zola® Fruits of the World™ has expanded distribution of its coconut waters and acai juices into Kroger, Winn-Dixie, BI-LO, subsidiaries of Bi-Lo Holdings, Boston and NY Stop & Shop, Giant Food, Giant Food Stores and Sprouts locations. This expansion secures placement for Zola in 2,600 additional grocery and natural food stores and deepens its distribution footprint into key Northeast, Southeast, Pacific Northwest and West Coast markets across the country. The company attributes this significant momentum to Zola’s commitment to high-quality, great tasting products, positive consumer reactions to the brand’s successful line extensions and a focused produce department strategy.
Zola is the fastest growing coconut water brand in both conventional grocery and natural foods channels. Recently, sales of Zola Coconut Water surpassed Naked Coconut Water, securing the #4 position in the conventional grocery channel. “We are ready to build on our momentum with new distribution in major grocery chains and the second largest natural food retailer in the country,” said Founder and CEO Chris Cuvelier. The company will launch products in Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Colorado, Southern California, Texas, Florida, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts with dedicated merchandising teams to support the accounts and build the Zola brand in these new markets. In addition to this expansion, Whole Foods Market has recently expanded its offering of Zola products in its Southern Pacific division. “At Zola, we listen to our consumers to create the very best products and partner with our retailers to deliver strong in-store programs that drive sales. We look forward to executing our growth plan for a successful 2015 and commit to delivering exciting new products to meet our consumer’s needs,” says Cuvelier.
Sonoma-Cutrer, most distinguished for producing world-class, award-winning Chardonnay, recently received two top awards for its Pinot Noir wines. The 2012 Founders Reserve Pinot Noir took home the highest honor at the 2015 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition with the Sweepstakes Red award, while the company’s flagship 2013 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir won the Platinum award at the 2015 San Diego International Wine Competition.
When Sonoma-Cutrer began crafting Pinot Noir in 2002, it was a natural extension from Chardonnay for a winery focused on the winemaking traditions of Burgundy, France. Today, Sonoma-Cutrer produces four distinctive Pinot Noir wines. Sonoma-Cutrer’s separate, artisan Pinot Noir winery takes many special steps to craft its Pinot Noir from early morning hand harvesting and hand sorting to a hand punch-down in open top fermenters. The same care and respect is used to craft Pinot Noir as with Chardonnay.
“Sonoma-Cutrer has always been recognized as a world-class producer of Chardonnay, with the Pinot Noir program being our best kept secret for years,” said Winemaking Director Mick Schroeter. “To receive honors and recognition for our Pinot Noirs from some of the most prestigious and highly competitive competitions in the United States has the entire Sonoma-Cutrer team over the moon with excitement.”
The care for these Pinot Noir wines is evident through the prestigious awards the winery has recently received, including the Sweepstakes Red award for the 2012 Founders Reserve, and Double Gold for the 2012 Vine Hill Pinot Noir at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. The competition, which received more than 6,300 wine entries, is known as the largest competition of American wines in the world. Of all these wines, only eight Sweepstakes awards are given in the categories of Sparkling, White, Pink, Red, and Dessert/Specialty wines.
“Sonoma-Cutrer’s Founders Reserve Pinot Noir was deemed the best of more than 4,000 red wines entered into the 2015 competition,” said San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition director Bob Fraser. “Mick Schroeter and his staff should be complimented for their excellence in viticulture and winemaking.”
The most highly acclaimed and requested Sonoma-Cutrer Pinot Noir, the Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, recently received the Platinum award and a 95 point rating for the 2013 vintage at the highly esteemed San Diego International Wine Competition.
“Sonoma-Cutrer has long been a benchmark producer of California Chardonnay. Situated in the cool Russian River Valley, it makes Chardonnay that possesses structure and elegance, giving it the ability to improve with age,” said San Diego International Wine Competition director Robert Whitley. “Because of the success of its Chardonnay, the Sonoma-Cutrer Pinot Noir is one of the best-kept secrets in the world of wine.”
All award-winning wines can be purchased at the Sonoma-Cutrer winery as well as through the wine club, Club Cutrer. Additionally, the Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is available nationwide in stores and at restaurants.
Suja Juice Co., which makes cold-pressured juice, has closed a financing round in excess of $20 million dollars. Suja’s newest investors are Evolution Media Partners (Evolution), a joint venture with TPG Growth, Participant Media, and Evolution Media Capital (EMC), the latter of which is a merchant bank formed in 2008 in partnership with Creative Artists Agency (CAA). Additional investors in this newest round of funding also include Leonardo DiCaprio, Jared Leto and Sofia Vergara.
“As someone constantly on the go, I have come to count on Suja not only to help me maintain my health and energy but to provide a great tasting fun alternative,” says Leto. “I am passionate about discovering brands that I not only actually use and enjoy, but also holistically believe in, and Suja is a great exemplifier of this search.”
Suja, which was just named by Forbes as the number two “Most Promising Company” in America, climbing up a spot from its #3 ranking in 2014, is coming off of a great year of top-line growth, brand building and capacity expansion. Suja continues to lead the tremendous growth of the high pressure processed organic juice category and is now seeing the same success in the traditional grocery channel that it saw last year in the natural foods channel. Funds from this investment round will be used to support the expansion of Suja’s manufacturing facility and its capacity as the company anticipates doubling revenues in 2015.
“Since Suja’s launch in May 2012, the brand has been blessed with an authentic and loyal fan following,” says James Brennan, Suja Co-founder. “We are lucky enough that some of these fans happened to be Hollywood’s most respected celebrities and wanted to do more than just enjoy the juice but actually be part of the Suja Juice movement. By bringing in the likes of CAA and this prominent group of individuals, it serves as great brand validation and reinforces that we really have created something special at Suja.”
The American beer industry welcomed bipartisan legislation introduced today to comprehensively reform the federal beer tax imposed on brewers and beer importers. The bill would remove barriers to growth in the industry, encouraging capital and workforce investment through simple, fair and broad reform.
Introduced by Reps. Steve Womack, R-Ark., and Ron Kind, D-Wis., the Fair Brewers Excise and Economic Relief Act of 2015 (Fair BEER Act) creates a graduated federal excise tax structure while maintaining a level playing field.
Under the Fair BEER Act, all brewers and beer importers would pay a rising scale of federal excise tax:
By imposing this “laddered” approach to all brewers and beer importers, the legislation reforms the overall tax structure to provide the greatest relief to the very smallest brewers. More than 90 percent of permitted brewers produce 7,143 barrels or less and would see their excise tax rates reduced from $7/barrel to zero. The 7,143 barrel threshold was designed to meet the definition of a “small brewer” set forth by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), the agency which regulates the alcohol industry.
By applying comprehensive reform across brewers, the legislation removes barriers to growth. Under current law, small brewers are defined as those which produce up to 2 million barrels, and are taxed at $7/barrel on the first 60,000 barrels and $18 on every barrel thereafter. Current law imposes an $18/barrel federal beer tax on all suppliers of more than 2 million barrels annually.
“Our tax policies shouldn’t discourage the growth and continued success of an industry that supports jobs for more than two million Americans, and it shouldn’t pick the winners and losers in the market,” said Congressman Womack. “This comprehensive reform bill supports brewpubs, microbrewers, national craft brewers, major brewers, and importers alike and encourages their entrepreneurial spirit, which is exactly the spirit we need to get America’s economic engine going again.”
“The beer industry has shaped our heritage and history in Wisconsin, and plays a crucial role in our state’s economy,” said Congressman Kind. “Here in Wisconsin and across the nation, brewers are employing our workers and creating new jobs, and this pro-growth, bipartisan bill will help them continue to expand and produce high-quality products.”
“This bill is important for reforming a hidden tax that most beer drinkers don’t even know they pay, and because it removes barriers to industry growth,” said Jim McGreevy, President and CEO of the Beer Institute, the nation’s leading trade association representing brewers, beer importers and industry suppliers. “The Fair BEER Act deserves support, because it offers fair reform of the federal beer tax, but it reaches that reform without completely changing the industry structure.”
Other original Fair BEER Act co-sponsors include Mark Amodei, R-Nev.; Mike Bost, R-Ill.; Ken Buck, R-Colo.; Tony Cardenas, D-Calif.;Doug Collins, R-Ga.; Rick Crawford, R-Ark.; Danny Davis, D-Ill.; Sam Graves, R-Mo.; Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz.; Alcee Hastings, D-Fla.;David Jolly, R-Fla.; Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo.; Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo.; Tom Marino, R-Pa.; Gwen Moore, D-Wis.; Grace Napolitano, D-Calif.; Jason Smith, R-Mo.; Todd Young, R-Ind.; Peter Welch, D-Vt.; Bruce Westerman, R-Ark.; and Ryan Zinke, R-Mont.
By offering tax reform across the category, from pennies on the barrel for major suppliers to an $18/barrel tax break for the smallest brewers, the Fair BEER Act offers Members of Congress an opportunity to support all brewers, from the smallest brewpubs to the biggest job creators. The Fair BEER Act also serves to fix a significant policy issue around trade by protecting small brewers from potentially losing their tax relief.
Companion legislation is expected to be introduced in the U.S. Senate shortly.
History of the Federal Excise Tax on Beer
Existing federal excise taxes on beer are set at a rate of $18/barrel for brewers of more than 2 million barrels (62 million gallons, or the equivalent of 110 million six-packs) and all beer importers. Since the late 70s, growth in the small brewing sector has been encouraged by tax credits offered to brewers which produce less than 2 million barrels, cutting their excise tax rate to $7/barrel on the first 60,000 barrels and allowing them a far lower overall effective tax rate on all barrels up to 2 million.
Today there are more than 3,300 breweries in the United States. More than 90 percent of those brewers produce fewer than 7,143 barrels annually, meeting the definition of a small brewer set by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). Many of those small brewers are brewpubs, which are restaurants with brewing operations designed to sell locally.
While the reduced tax rate for brewers has been a success in introducing new entrants to the market, the eligibility definition of “small” at 2 million barrels unintentionally created a barrier to further growth. By removing the production cap to allow all brewers and beer importers relief, and graduating the relief in such a manner that the deepest reductions in rates are reserved for the newest entrants to the market, the Fair BEER Act reforms the beer tax without altering the industry structure, or picking winners and losers in the marketplace.
Great Lakes Brewing Company (GLBC) launched its refreshed logo to the public in January and is now releasing new packaging artwork for the company’s five year-round brands.
The new label artwork was handcrafted by artist Darren Booth, who is known for creating detailed paintings with collage elements. GLBC provided Booth with archival materials relevant to each brand, that were incorporated into his paintings. These discoverable elements bring additional storytelling opportunities to each package.
Booth visited GLBC in the summer of 2014 to learn the history behind the existing labels. GLBC owners and team members briefed him on narratives for each brand and supplied unique collage pieces for Booth to include in his artwork. Throughout 2014, what began as sketched concepts evolved into colorful, detailed paintings, all of which incorporate textures and mementos from GLBC’s 27 years in the craft beer industry.
“Our customers may be familiar with Eliot Ness as a historical figure, but they may not know that our mother was his stenographer, or that he used to frequent our historic taproom. Darren’s beautiful paintings include so many layers that allow us to share these kinds of details. They’re more than just labels. They’re conversation pieces,” says GLBC co-owner Pat Conway, who, with brother and co-owner Dan Conway, is actively involved in the brand refresh process. On the bottom of GLBC’s new packages, customers will find similar stories that reveal the history behind each brew.
Booth was commissioned to create label artwork for GLBC’s five year-round beers and nine seasonals. The year-round packages will hit shelves beginning in May. In June, GLBC will release its first seasonal with refreshed packaging: Sharpshooter Session Wheat IPA. Brewed with orange peel and Jarrylo hops, Sharpshooter is a hoppy wheat beer named for Ohio-born exhibition shooter Annie Oakley.
Along with refreshed packaging, GLBC will release redesigned taphandles, signage, and merchandise around Memorial Day. A new company website will launch in May, along with the new Great Lakes Brewing Company Beer Symposium – a visitor’s center and event space.
Great Lakes® Brewing Company, which is comprised of a brewery and brewpub, was founded in 1988 by brothers Patrick and Daniel Conway as the first microbrewery in the state of Ohio and today remains Ohio’s most celebrated and award-winning brewer of lagers and ales.
For more information, visit greatlakesbrewing.com.
Sambazon, the pioneer of açaí, today announced the launch of new Sambazon 100 Juices, the first 100 percent juice line with 100 calories or less per bottle and 70 percent less sugar than other premium juices. Packing the superior health benefits of 100 açaí berries in each bottle, this refreshingly exotic new line delivers powerful antioxidants and healthy omegas with three delicious flavors: Açaí Berry, Strawberry + Lemon + Açaí Berry and Pineapple + Coconut + Açaí Berry.
“Açaí has long been held as one of the most nutritionally dense superfoods on the planet and is sought after for its remarkable levels of antioxidants,” said Ryan Black, founder and CEO of Sambazon. “But most people don’t know that açaí is one of the only fruits in the world with virtually zero naturally-occurring sugar. Starting with that pure, organic açaí juice and blending in fresh fruits and natural, organic sweeteners has allowed us to create an invigorating, delicious beverage with all the exceptional health benefits of 100 açaí berries, but fewer calories and sugar. Sambazon 100 gives our consumers the most nutritious bang for their calorie buck.”
Like all Sambazon products, new Sambazon 100 Juices are Certified USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, vegan, and made with Ecocert Fair Trade açaí. Each exotically refreshing flavor contains only 5-11 grams of sugar per bottle, achieved through an organic and Non-GMO Project Verified blend of zero glycemic stevia and erythritol, plus low-glycemic agave in the Açaí Berry variety. Sambazon 100 will be available in natural health food stores and grocers nationwide beginning in March 2015, in 10.5 ounce bottles with an SRP of $3.49. Flavors include:
Açaí Berry – With an exotic cocoa berry flavor, each bottle delivers the highest quality açaí and a boost of healthy antioxidants and omegas, with only 100 calories and 11 grams of sugar.
Strawberry + Lemon + Açaí Berry – With antioxidant-rich acerola cherry, also known as Amazon Cherry, this juice is supercharged with 200 percent of the Daily Value of vitamin C. Each bottle has only 70 calories and 5 grams of sugar.
Pineapple + Coconut + Açaí Berry – Nutritious coconut and Amazon superfoods make for a healthy and refreshing tropical juice, which has only 60 calories and 6 grams of sugar per bottle.
For more information on Sambazon 100 Juice, and Sambazon’s complete line of Amazon Superfoods, visit www.sambazon.com.
Geared towards bolstering businesses of all kinds through its in-depth education program, the 13th annual World Tea Expo (@worldteamedia – #WorldTeaExpo or #WTE15) takes place May 6 – 8, 2015 in Long Beach, Calif. at the Long Beach Convention Center. World Tea Expo is focused 100 percent on premium teas and related products. To register or for additional information, visit WorldTeaExpo.com.
This year’s agenda covers a wide variety of industry topics and tea retail strategies, including: the state of the tea industry, direct trade with tea producers, sustainability and the global tea system, product quality, false marketing/labeling, growing tea commercially in the United States, marketing of organic teas, increasing sales through the latest trends, the culinary world and tea, and tea and health, among other topics. In addition to the education program, the exposition floor features hundreds of new products and services, many of which cannot be found at any other trade show.
World Tea Expo attendees — top companies and professionals from more than 50 countries — will attend the event to discover “what’s next” in tea. Conference delegates represent: tea and coffee shops, grocery chains, private label brands, gourmet retailers, convenience stores, distributors, online businesses, restaurants and chefs, foodservice, hotels and distributors, as well as manufacturers and beverage developers, and others interested in building their business through tea.
Highlights of the Education Program at World Tea Expo
Global State of the Industry: A Review of the Top Tea Trends and Markets Around the World – Presenter Jonas Feliciano (@JonasF_EMI), a beverages industry analyst with Euromonitor International, will focus on the largest and fastest growing tea markets around the world. He’ll also provide insights on the top trends that are driving sales, using Euromonitor’s latest beverages data.
Emerging Hot Issues in Current US Tea Market: Speaker Youngmok Kim, Senior Research Scientist at Synergy Flavors, will uncover current issues related to health benefits, scientific research, product quality, false marketing/labeling, health claims and tea myths. Solutions/answers will be provided based on scientific facts, data and literature.
Direct Trade – Building Relationships with Tea Producers: Elyse Petersen (@peaceelyse), founder of Tealet, will discuss how retailers can now develop relationships with tea producers, providing more transparency of sourcing to their customers. During the session, lessons will be learned from the infrastructure developed in the coffee industry. Terms and standards for direct trade will also be defined in this presentation, as well as how retailers can move forward with direct trade practices.
Promoting Sustainability and Climate Mitigation in the Global Tea System: Selena Ahmed, Assistant Professor of Sustainable Food Systems, Montana State University, is scheduled to present on the impact of climate change on tea quality, and how tea industry agents can mitigate this risk. Ahmed will explore these topics from a sustainability framework and a guided tea tasting. Tangible business practices will also be recommended that can be adopted towards enhanced sustainability of the global tea system.
Growing Tea Commercially in the USA: Nigel Melican (@teacraftecm), CEO of Teacraft LTD, says there’s a trending interest in tea growing in the United States, but there’s sparse information on how to set up a tea growing business. Melican’s session will look at how tea growing in the United States is different than other countries, profitability, where to start, and the limitations
Tea Moves Back into the Bar & Back to the Kitchen: Suzy Badaracco, president of Culinary Tides, Inc., will discuss culinary cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks, and how everything from tea, bacon, herbs, fruits and vegetables are the “rock stars” at the bar. The session will also look at how tea has been making its way into food, showing up as a seasoning in desserts, entrées and side dishes. The presentation will explore the forces behind the movement of tea into beverages and into the kitchen.
The Big Chill in Premium Tea: Maria Uspenski (@uspenski), CEO of The Tea Spot, says many upscale restaurants and cafes now prepare their iced teas using the cold brew method. Foodservice professionals have touted the ease and flexibility of the process, as well as the finesse of the resulting flavor. In addition, research studies have hyped the chemical benefits to cold brewing certain teas. Uspenski’s session will provide a comprehensive introduction and overview to cold brew tea and how it can play into foodservice offerings.
Increasing Your Sales With the New Matcha Madness Trend: Presenter Rona Tison, Senior Vice President, Corporate Relations, ITO EN (North America) INC., says matcha is the new culinary trend of 2015. In her session, attendees will learn how to maximize sales with the revered ceremonial green tea that’s making its way into the American mainstream market. Attendees will learn the expansive world of this growing tea trend, and how to integrate matcha into a business through culinary diplomacy.
Production, Demand and Marketing of Organic Teas: Nikhil Ghosh Hajra, Director / CEO / Technical Adviser, Tea Board of India / Organic Tea & Agri-Horticultural Consulting, will review the development of organic tea, cultivation practices, current global trends of production and the global market.
Selling Tea For Health: The Power of Talking About Tea and Health: Babette Donaldson, author of The Everything Healthy Tea Book, notes that many speak freely about the health benefits of tea, yet the FDA limits merchants from using this powerful message. So what can be said? How can one (legally) tap into this conversation and build business on current scientific research and ancient healing wisdom? Donaldson will present an overview and discuss ways to navigate government controls, while participating in meaningful conversations with customers about the many healthful benefits of tea.
New England Coffee Company, which has been roasting coffee locally for 99 years, today announces the availability of its Blizzard Bold blend. A new seasonal blend made from a unique arrangement of Central American coffee beans, Blizzard Bold boasts an intensely rich, dark, aromatic flavor that is perfect for cold winter days.
As with all of New England Coffee’s blends, Blizzard Bold is made with 100 percent high-quality Arabica coffee beans and small-batch roasted to ensure the perfect flavor. Blizzard Bold is one of the brand’s darker roasts, but also features a finer grind of the beans to provide a smooth finish. Blizzard Bold is the first in a series of limited-time-only products New England Coffee will offer throughout 2015. The special blends will include longstanding customer favorites along with several completely new flavors.
To celebrate the Blizzard Bold launch, New England Coffee will give consumers the opportunity to win a year’s supply of free coffee via a Facebook contest asking fans to guess how many inches of snow Boston will see this February. The contest will kick off on February 6, the anniversary of the infamous Blizzard of 1978, which dumped a then-record 27.1 inches of snow in Boston.
In addition, New England Coffee social media followers on Facebook and Twitter will be able to show just how bold they are by sharing their own bold move via photo or video using the hashtag #neboldmove. The New England Coffee sampling truck will also visit select locations in Boston throughout January and February so followers can experience Blizzard Bold for themselves.
Blizzard Bold is available in 10-ounce freshly ground packages through February 2015 online at www.newenglandcoffee.com and at select retailers, including ACME Markets, Big Y, Market Basket, Roche Bros., Shaw’s, ShopRite, and Stop & Shop.
From the rocky coastline to the mountain vistas and the lush river valleys, the land has always been the hero in the story of Sonoma County, California. Through it all, the dedicated efforts of farmers and ranchers have been at the forefront of taking care of the land, protecting it and managing it in a way that has provided a bounty of apples, prunes, pears, poultry, lamb, beef and, more recently, winegrapes for nearly 150 years.
With this in mind, Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, also known as Sonoma County Winegrowers (SCW), has created a 100-year business plan to preserve agriculture in Sonoma County well into the 22nd Century. The 100-year plan is believed to be the first of its kind in agriculture and the global wine industry. It is also the next step in the evolution of Sonoma County’s efforts to become the first wine region in the United States to have all of its wines grown and made in a sustainable manner.
“Last year when we announced our intent to be 100-percent sustainable by 2019, it was always viewed as the starting point, not the end goal,” said Karissa Kruse, President of the Sonoma County Winegrowers. She added, “It is our job as farmers to be caretakers of the land in Sonoma County and preserve our agricultural legacy and way of life for future generations. Just as we inherited the land from previous generations, we have a fundamental responsibility to make the land better for those who inherit it from us.”
The existence of the 100-year plan was announced nearly one year to the day when Sonoma County Winegrowers generated worldwide attention for its bold commitment to become the nation’s first 100 percent sustainable wine growing region by 2019. Sonoma County winegrape growers are currently following a rigorous sustainability self-assessment and third party certification program focused on 138 farming and business practices, such as land use, canopy management, energy efficiency, water quality assessments, carbon emissions, healthcare and training for employees and being a good neighbor and community member.
In the twelve months since announcing its sustainable intentions, the local wine industry reached one-third of its targeted goal of becoming 100-percent sustainable. More than 43 percent (25,987 vineyard acres) of the county’s 59,772 vineyard acres have completed a sustainability assessment. In addition, 33 percent of the county’s vineyard acres (21,491 vineyard acres) have taken the next step and are now certified under a third-party auditor program. The 59,772 vineyard acres in Sonoma County only accounts for 6 percent of the county’s one million acres with the rest being utilized as pasture land (36 percent), forests (49 percent) and urban land (9 percent). More than 950 winegrape growers have attended sustainability workshops, meetings or other sustainability-related events. There were 26 sustainability workshops and meetings hosted by the Sonoma County Winegrowers in 2014. Eight of the county’s 16 AVAs held sustainability workshops in the past year.
As the past year evolved, industry leaders met and the 100 year plan was written. It is designed as a living document and will be executed through both annual and five-year benchmarks that will identify transformational opportunities for collaboration and seek partnerships with a variety of groups including agricultural, business, community and education as well as government leaders to find tangible solutions and provide flexibility for the unexpected. The time period of 100 years was chosen as a natural period that touches everyone in a tangible way – it represents two generations before and the next two future generations in essence spanning from grandparents to grandchildren. The plan addresses such issues as innovation and research, natural resources, the regulatory environment, community engagement and marketing while building coalitions throughout the community in support of sustaining agriculture in Sonoma County forever.
“This effort is charting a path to preserve agriculture in Sonoma County for the next 100 years,” said Brad Petersen, a third-generation grape grower who manages vineyards at Silver Oak Cellars and chairman of the Sonoma County Winegrowers board of directors. He added, “It provides us and those who follow with a set of guiding principles to ensure agriculture is successfully preserved and that Sonoma County will remain the best wine region in the world for the next 100 years and beyond.”