1970 was winding down when the winery’s founders, Bill Blosser and Susan Sokol Blosser pulled their ’68 VW Camper up to an abandoned prune orchard some 30 miles southwest of Portland. They had little farming experience and just a basic knowledge of winemaking. What they did have, in abundance, was a passion for growing the Pinot Noir grape and creating world-class wine. A year later, they would plant their first five acres of Pinot Noir vines and cinched their place as pioneers in Oregon’s budding wine industry.
In 1979, when Oregon wines were little known outside the Northwest, the Sokol Blosser Winery astonished the wine world by winning six medals (three gold, two silver and a bronze) at the International Wine & Spirits Competition in London. It was, says Susan, “our first affirmation that we were on the right track.”
The second generation is continuing Sokol Blosser’s longstanding commitment a ‘good to the earth’ policy that includes Certified Organic farming, biodiversity, and sustainable business practices.
At the vineyard, which attained USDA organic certification in 2005, farming organically means using no synthetic chemicals or fertilizers and encouraging biodiversity of species to create a balanced ecosystem. Biodiesel fuels the tractors and vineyard trucks and giant compost piles are built after each harvest. After one year, this compost is used to fertilize vines and build soil health. Plantings of lavender, yarrow, rudbeckia, and Russian sage help to provide habitats for beneficial insects and expand the vineyard ecosystem.
The winery’s underground barrel cellar was the first winery facility in the US to earn LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. A no-waste, energy efficient crossflow filter is used to filter the white wines. Wine labels are printed on post consumer waste recycled paper with vegetable based ink and all wines are packaged in recycled kraft case boxes.
In 2006 Sokol Blosser installed a 24kW solar array in the vineyard that provides 25% of their energy needs. They also purchase wind power from their local utility company and are a sponsor of their renewable energy program. As part of the Governor’s Carbon Neutral pledge, they report their carbon emissions through the Climate Registry. The staff manages a 1/2 acre organic vegetable garden, providing produce for employees three seasons a year.
Sokol Blosser Winery has received multiple honors for its commitment to sustainability, including Sunset Magazine’s 2007 Green Winery of the Year, the State of Oregon’s 2008 Governor’s Award for Sustainability in the Small Business category, and Oregon Business Magazine’s 2009 “100 Best Companies to Work For “and “100 Best Green Companies to Work For” awards.