Greg Schultz
April 24, 2016 | Greg Schultz

Beginning of Certification

Debbie completed the Land Steward program offered by the Oregon State University Extension last year and I am set to finish up this year. We both are committed to taking the very best care of our farm property. It is sometimes unclear as to what approach is the best when it comes to weeds, fertility, and pests in our vineyard. We think it best to follow a farm management standard, but which one?

First leaves developing on our Tempranillo vines

We have done a lot of research and talked with other viticulturalists in our area. Some viticulturalists follow certain standards, some follow others. Some get certified, some don’t. Some are organic, some are biodynamic. Some are LIVE certified, others are Salmon-Safe. Later I learned that LIVE and Salmon-Safe are one in the same for vineyards. Also, I learned that organic is the starting point for biodynamic. I even learned of one vineyard in Oregon’s Willamette Valley that has all of these certifications. Confusing?

All of these standards are good. The farmers employing them are striving for safe environments and healthy foods, but go about it in different ways. LIVE (Low Input Viticulture and Enology) offers “science-based standards for sustainablewinegrowers” which are third-party certified. Salmon-Safe partners with LIVE and has a “mission to transform land management practices so Pacific salmon can thrive in West Coast watersheds”. The National Organic Program is a regulatory program operated by the USDA and is “responsible for developing national standards for organically-produced agricultural products”. Biodynamic farming “involves managing a farm utilizing the principles of a living organism” (self-sufficient, efficient, and diverse) meeting its “needs from the living dynamics of the farm itself”. In order to meet biodynamic requirements, a farm must first be certified organic. Is this getting any clearer?

Our good neighbors across Slagle Creek Road are Wooldridge Creek Vineyard and Winery. They are LIVE certified and are going to work with us on our spraying program this year. They have been a great help in so many ways! Pallet Wine Company where we make our wines is also LIVE certified. We have decided to begin our farm management sustainability program with LIVE and incorporate as many organic methods into our program as is feasible.

One of the things we like about the LIVE program is that it is progressive (good, better, best), not just lists of do’s and don’ts. There is a minimum score to achieve certification, then LIVE provides guidance for how to improve each subsequent year. The checklists are constructed in a way that it is easy to see what the certification body believes are superior practices. Being an engineer, I really like this approach. It provides a vision for us to continuously improve and provides a firm foundation for going organic and biodynamic in the future. There are continuing education requirements which also is appealing to us as we work to become great farmers.

One day closer to a (sustainable) harvest…

We have been working with Hale Signs of Medford and now have a beautiful wood sign at our driveway entrance.


Our new sign welcomes tasters to our vineyard!


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