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Earth Day 2021

Thursday, April 22nd is Earth Day 2021!

This is the 51st Earth Day. The mission of Earth Day has always been to mobilize civil action to protect and restore our environment. You can read more about Earth Day 2021 here.

To me Earth Day reflects the ability of people to collectively engage to change the course of human impact. As humans, our sheer numbers imply that we will change the earth’s environment in many ways. We must adapt the way we live to minimize the damage we do every day by focusing on living and working in sustainable ways.

That is part of our Mission here at Oak Creek Vineyards & Winery. We are building a sustainable business that our families, neighbors, employees, members and customers are proud to be associated with for years to come.

For our business to be sustainable it must be productive, and we will take actions necessary to keep our employees employed and our customers satisfied while at the same time finding more cost-effective ways to reduce the resources we consume and limiting damaging wastes we create.

There are many challenges, but, taking a lesson from Earth Day by being focused and consistent and working together we can achieve these goals.

How it Applies to Us,

Oak Creek Vineyards & Winery is a small-scale grape farm, a wine producer, a direct-to-consumer retailer, and a retail tasting room all in one business. Each of these enterprises consumes resources and creates waste. What can we do to reduce our footprint? It’s a lot!

Garbage

We produce a lot of trash. We produce about 6 cubic yards of trash every week.

    • Reuse & Recycle: Everything we purchase is packaged, resulting in plastic, Styrofoam, and cardboard. While we recycle as much as possible, we are also saving many cardboard boxes and packing materials for reuse in our online and tasting room gift shop sales.
    • Reduce & Reuse: We are transitioning from plastic to cardboard inserts for our wine club shipments, eliminating about 1000 plastic inserts in each wine club release. We have also experimented with returnable packaging and with reusable wine carriers for our wine club pickups.
    • Eliminate the Short-Term: About 30% of all the bottles we purchase are emptied in the tasting room for use in wine tasting services on the premises  then tossed in the recycle. Our plan is to move toward reusable kegs for the tasting room to eliminate this short-term use of bottles.
    • Composting: We compost organic food waste from the kitchen and from our employees. We also collect sheep manure from a neighboring farm and food waste from the local food bank to add to our compost heap. The composted materials are spread as mulch around our vines. This adds nitrogen, micro-nutrients and improves the acidity of our soils.

Irrigation

Fortunately, grapes require a relatively small amount of water and are generally drought tolerant compared to other crops. However, particularly up to the time of fruit set the health and vitality of the plants depends on adequate supplies of water. Healthy plants are more disease resistant and pest resistant. If they are properly supplied with water that complements their nutrient requirements, using chemical means to fertilize and control pests are minimized.

    • Weather Optimization: We are currently adding a weather station to help optimize our irrigation schedule. This will measure solar radiation and the amount of water being evaporated through he leaves of the vines to help us put the correct amount of water on the plants depending on the weather.
    • Irrigation Upgrade: We are upgrading our irrigation system on the property to ensure we deliver the desired amount of water to each of our plants. We use a drip system today which applies water directly to the plants, but every plant needs to get the correct amount depending on age and soil type in the vineyard.

Soil & Pest Management

In order to produce great grapes, we need to start with soil.

    • The Compost: Our soils have many of the nutrients required but are generally low in organic matter. We are improving the organic content through compost additions.
    • No Chemicals: A healthy balanced ecosystem minimizes infestations of pests. Predatory insects are our best defense against many pests. Chemical sprays will unbalance the ecosystem by killing pests and their predators indiscriminately and affecting our neighbors and Oak Creek which runs nearby. We are encouraged that we see relatively small numbers of pests and large populations of predatory insects. If it becomes necessary, we will spray with organic oils to control specific pests at specific times. It is never our intent to “carpet-bomb” the vineyard.

These are but a few examples of how we are attempting to live Earth Day every day. It is through small steps applied persistently and consistently that we will get just a little better every day. When we look back, we will recognize and celebrate how far we have come. In the spirit of Earth Day, if we all make these small improvements every day, we will all benefit from a healthier environment for us and our families.

- Nathalie & Gary

Earth Day 2021

Thursday, April 22nd is Earth Day 2021!

This is the 51st Earth Day. The mission of Earth Day has always been to mobilize civil action to protect and restore our environment. You can read more about Earth Day 2021 here.

To me Earth Day reflects the ability of people to collectively engage to change the course of human impact. As humans, our sheer numbers imply that we will change the earth’s environment in many ways. We must adapt the way we live to minimize the damage we do every day by focusing on living and working in sustainable ways.

That is part of our Mission here at Oak Creek Vineyards & Winery. We are building a sustainable business that our families, neighbors, employees, members and customers are proud to be associated with for years to come.

For our business to be sustainable it must be productive, and we will take actions necessary to keep our employees employed and our customers satisfied while at the same time finding more cost-effective ways to reduce the resources we consume and limiting damaging wastes we create.

There are many challenges, but, taking a lesson from Earth Day by being focused and consistent and working together we can achieve these goals.

How it Applies to Us,

Oak Creek Vineyards & Winery is a small-scale grape farm, a wine producer, a direct-to-consumer retailer, and a retail tasting room all in one business. Each of these enterprises consumes resources and creates waste. What can we do to reduce our footprint? It’s a lot!

Garbage

We produce a lot of trash. We produce about 6 cubic yards of trash every week.

    • Reuse & Recycle: Everything we purchase is packaged, resulting in plastic, Styrofoam, and cardboard. While we recycle as much as possible, we are also saving many cardboard boxes and packing materials for reuse in our online and tasting room gift shop sales.
    • Reduce & Reuse: We are transitioning from plastic to cardboard inserts for our wine club shipments, eliminating about 1000 plastic inserts in each wine club release. We have also experimented with returnable packaging and with reusable wine carriers for our wine club pickups.
    • Eliminate the Short-Term: About 30% of all the bottles we purchase are emptied in the tasting room for use in wine tasting services on the premises  then tossed in the recycle. Our plan is to move toward reusable kegs for the tasting room to eliminate this short-term use of bottles.
    • Composting: We compost organic food waste from the kitchen and from our employees. We also collect sheep manure from a neighboring farm and food waste from the local food bank to add to our compost heap. The composted materials are spread as mulch around our vines. This adds nitrogen, micro-nutrients and improves the acidity of our soils.

Irrigation



Fortunately, grapes require a relatively small amount of water and are generally drought tolerant compared to other crops. However, particularly up to the time of fruit set the health and vitality of the plants depends on adequate supplies of water. Healthy plants are more disease resistant and pest resistant. If they are properly supplied with water that complements their nutrient requirements, using chemical means to fertilize and control pests are minimized.

    • Weather Optimization: We are currently adding a weather station to help optimize our irrigation schedule. This will measure solar radiation and the amount of water being evaporated through he leaves of the vines to help us put the correct amount of water on the plants depending on the weather.
    • Irrigation Upgrade: We are upgrading our irrigation system on the property to ensure we deliver the desired amount of water to each of our plants. We use a drip system today which applies water directly to the plants, but every plant needs to get the correct amount depending on age and soil type in the vineyard.

Soil & Pest Management

In order to produce great grapes, we need to start with soil.


    • The Compost: Our soils have many of the nutrients required but are generally low in organic matter. We are improving the organic content through compost additions.
    • No Chemicals: A healthy balanced ecosystem minimizes infestations of pests. Predatory insects are our best defense against many pests. Chemical sprays will unbalance the ecosystem by killing pests and their predators indiscriminately and affecting our neighbors and Oak Creek which runs nearby. We are encouraged that we see relatively small numbers of pests and large populations of predatory insects. If it becomes necessary, we will spray with organic oils to control specific pests at specific times. It is never our intent to “carpet-bomb” the vineyard.
  • These are but a few examples of how we are attempting to live Earth Day every day. It is through small steps applied persistently and consistently that we will get just a little better every day. When we look back, we will recognize and celebrate how far we have come. In the spirit of Earth Day, if we all make these small improvements every day, we will all benefit from a healthier environment for us and our families.

    - Nathalie & Gary

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