L’Ecole is a leader and an active proponent of sustainable farming in the Walla Walla Valley. Our Walla Walla Estate vineyards – Ferguson and Seven Hills – and Pepper Bridge vineyard are Certified Sustainable and Certified Salmon-Safe, as noted on our back labels. We focus on soil biology and vine health, choosing minimal input and targeted-impact farming practices. Everything we do is aimed at nurturing the long-term health of our vineyards, ensuring they thrive well into the future. We use IPM (Integrated Pest Management) processes for better farming decisions and we don’t use herbicides.
Planted originally in 1997, our Seven Hills Vineyard was converted to sustainable, while Ferguson was planned and planted with a focus on sustainability from the outset, following an integrated farming program in the years leading up to planting. That effort continues to guide us today, where our most recent plantings at Ferguson with grafted rootstock were exposed to beneficial mycorrhizal fungi as a stepping stone to ensure the vines root well and have a healthy start.
What is Sustainability?
Sustainable programs employ environmentally friendly and socially responsible viticultural practices that respect the land and conserve natural resources. It also supports biodiversity, exercises responsible relationships with workers, neighbors, and the community, and provides continuing economic and biological vineyard viability. In sustainability, the emphasis is on low input, soft practices that nurture soil health by encouraging biodiversity and soil microorganisms through the use of composts and compost teas, amongst other strategies and measures.
We have been committed to sustainable farming practices since the early 2000s when we acquired third-party LIVE and Salmon-Safe certifications through VINEA, an early coalition of vineyards in the Walla Walla Valley focused on developing sustainable programs. VINEA is now evolving an independent program tailored to the micro-climate of the Walla Walla Valley, which will continue working in conjunction with Salmon-Safe, and will allow a new, more attuned third-party sustainable certification.
Benefits of Sustainable Farming
- Healthier vines, more resistant to pest pressures
- Reduced erosion due to better soil structure and beneficial cover crops
- Use of minimal environmental sprays, such as biodegradable oils and plant extracts
- Improved plant nutrient cycling, including support of beneficial microorganisms in the soil
- Lower carbon footprint due to minimal mowing and reduced chemical inputs
More on our Sustainable Farming Practices and Certifications HERE.
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