Long Island Winemakers Announce First East Coast Sustainability Program

Marrying grape growing, winemaking, and social responsibility

A group of Long Island winemakers has spearheaded the formation of the East Coast’s first official sustainability program, an eco-friendly effort that marries grape growing, winemaking, and social responsibility.

Named Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing, Inc. (LISW), the not-for-profit organization will provide education and official certification for participating Long Island vineyards. "We are eager to strengthen the ecological leadership and social responsibility of the Long Island wine region," Richard Olsen-Harbich, winemaker at Bedell Cellars said in a statement announcing the group’s formation.

"This effort has been an important process for Long Island wineries to demonstrate they are serious about making world-class wines that are also ecologically sensitive. New Yorkers should take pride knowing that the most sustainable and lowest carbon footprint wines are made right here in their own backyard, on the East End of Long Island."

Bedell, along with Channing Daughters Winery, Martha Clara Vineyards, and Shinn Estate Vineyards, formed the core working group of wineries that worked to create the LISW in conjunction with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County to codify specific sustainable grape growing practices.

Oregon and California have similar programs but the Long Island ecosystem is particularly fragile due to its proximity to creeks and bays. "We farm land that is part of an important watershed, and the Long Island sustainable standards will guide local viticulturists in returning to more natural methods of farming," said Barbara Shinn, co-owner and viticulturist of Shinn Estate.

Currently, there are more than 50 wineries in the North Fork and Hamptons viticultural areas eligible to participate in the program.