Tightrope Winery & Vineyard is the first Certified member of Sustainable Winegrowing BC.
TIGHTROPE WINERY … a sustainable approach to wine
From the beginning Graham & Lyndsay knew they wanted Tightrope Winery to be a sustainable business. After all, the property was also to be the home to their young family, and they wanted to ensure it would be a healthy environment for their family for generations. The wanted a real solution that would create meaningful results; they had no interest in simply greenwashing the business.
“…most of the damage we cause to the planet is the result of our own ignorance.” – Yvon Chouinard
What is sustainability? Sustainability takes into account how we might live in harmony with the natural world around us, protecting it from damage and destruction. Sustainability means meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It goes beyond organics with a focus on resource management, including water and energy efficiency. Sustainability is not just environmental-ism. Central to its principles are concerns for social equity, economic development and how the greater community is affected.
Graham embarked on a journey to create a framework for sustainability as it relates to winegrowing in British Columbia as one of the founding Directors with Sustainable Winegrowing BC (SWBC). The culmination of a decade in development, the certification system for sustainable winegrowing was released in late 2020. It is one of the next generation of Global Certification Standards that are based on continual improvement, are outcome focused, and continually use data to measure performance. There are both essential criteria that require 100% compliance and continuous improvement criteria that are measured over time and require continual improvement.
Sustainability incorporates both environmental and social areas. The goal is to create systems & practices that conserve resources & create efficiency while protecting the environment. Sustainability efforts include a broad and proactive approach towards production management and enhancement, environmental stewardship, and social equity. Sustainably grown wine is earth-friendly – it is made with people and the planet in mind.
The vineyard management plan incorporates practices like lowering water & energy use and protecting worker health with a focus on:
- Protecting the natural ecosystem, biodiversity and natural resources (e.g. water conservation)
- Input use:
- Water, energy (electric, fuels), labour
- Greenhouse gas emissions
- Soil & nutrient management = soil health
- Pest management - we do not use insecticides or herbicides.
- Worker health & safety, along with social benefit
In practice this impacts the environment through:
- Limiting soil erosion through cover crops, minimizing the use of equipment
- Protection of waterways, wetlands & riparian buffers
- Practices that support & enhance biodiversity (e.g. our bat house)
- Soil management & nutrition through organic fertilizers, cover crops & compost
- Integrated pest management that is targeted to crop damage and does not harm beneficials. Mechanical, biological & physical remedies must be used before pesticides. We do not use pesticides.
- Irrigation management (e.g. low volume drip irrigation)
- Power from renewable energy sources (e.g. solar)
- Social equality for workers, neighbours & the greater community
The winery management plan the focuses on:
- Grapes must come from a certified vineyard(s)
- Water conservation & recycling
- Energy efficiency
- 80% clean, renewable energy (e.g. solar, clean electric)
- Annual audits & improvements
- Waste Management
- stems, pomace & lees are collected, composted and then reapplied to the vineyard
- Utilization of all local suppliers
- Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions
- Eco-efficient & sustainable winery infrastructure
- Social equity through an active commitment to fairness, justice, and equality in the formulation of policies and services
We are committed to making the highest quality wine in a manner that best supports people and the planet. Sustainability is a path, not a destination. We hope you will join us on this path.
SUSTAINABLE WINEGROWING BRITISH COLUMBIA
SWBC is an ongoing project of the BC Wine Grape Council, managing sustainability certification, as well as providing educational resources and training to help vineyards and wineries establish sustainable practices. We share best practices and measure ongoing improvement. SWBC was created by a pro-active team of BC wine industry volunteers, who gathered local knowledge and expertise and learned from programs in other winegrowing regions.