Green Practices

Viña la Playa’s Commitment to Sustainability

The Journey to Sustainability

Back in the late 1940’s, agriculture was revolutionized by the introduction of chemical pesticides and synthetic nutrients. Yet that revolution ultimately waged war on the land, as many of the additives were discovered to be toxic. Today, we are recognizing that those practices caused substantial damage to the earth, and gradually destroyed the natural balance and components of the soils across the globe. Many industrial farmers today are recognizing their mistakes, and looking back to the old ways of agriculture.

At Viña la Playa, we have taken the correct course all along. Our longstanding natural growing practices make all our vineyards green and healthy, just as Mother Nature intended.

What is Sustainability?

Sustainable practices are those that meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. But sustainability is not just “environmental sustainability,” it is being a steward of both natural and human resources. A farmer needs to nurture the land, water and animals, but also the health and economic well being of his family and employees.

What is ISO 14000?

ISO 14000 is a globally recognized Quality Environmental Management Program that focuses on a winery’s environmental footprint, and helps the winery to continually reduce its environmental impact. It is a rigorous affiliation that requires three years to complete, and then is constantly monitored thereafter.

Examples of sustainable practices include:

• Organic standards for the vineyard (no fertilizers or pesticides)

• Soil erosion controls

• Air quality controls

• Composting of all organic waste

• Natural cooling in the winery and in the offices

• Wastewater recycling

• Water saving irrigation practices

• Cleaning tanks and other vineyard equipment without chemicals

• Plant/animal diversity around the vineyard

• Enhancing natural ecosystems

• Recycling within offices

• Working to lower the carbon footprint of the winery as a whole

How Does A Winery Achieve Official ISO 14000 Sustainability Status?

ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is a world wide accepted certification, where the winery is monitored by internal and third party audits. To be awarded ISO certification, the winery must follow rigid processes, standards and guidelines.

An important aspect of the ISO approach is that it encourages continual improvement, with constantly increasing demands to improve winery performance.

The La Playa Way

Our wines are elaborated under the official ISO 14000 certificated process. Viña La Playa is committed to making the most efficient use of energy and raw materials (such as using less water and energy), to reduce our impact on the environment and maintain sustainability over future generations. We strive to be gentle on the land and provide a beneficial habitat for animals and our neighbors, while producing the highest quality wines possible.

We go above and beyond the minimum ISO 14000 requirements, employing such Organic Growers Association practices as:

    • We use no chemicals (Our Chilean landscape, with virtually no natural pests, already allows us to farm without pesticides for harvest, and we utilize only mechanical weed control).
    • We combat mildew with natural sulfur evaporators (Chile, being a drier climate, is naturally protected from most mildew and molds).
    • Many wineries use chlorine to wash tanks; we use boiling water which is then recycled for use in the vineyard. Winery wastewater that is rich in grape skin residue is used as fertilizer.
    • Wastewaster is recycled throughout the property, including to irrigate alfalfa fields which in turn feed our property’s horses (our vineyard manager prefers to work on horseback, which is more gentle to the soil and ozone than trucks).
    • We combat molds with natural grapefruit seed extract; repel mites with natural mineral oil; control invasive rodents with indigenous owls and falcons.
    • We fertilize with natural pomace and special bird manure, imported from a northern island known for its superior bird environment producing an extraordinarily rich and abundant diet.
    • We maintain an enormous compost area for grapes skins and pulp used as fertilizer, and use spent grape stems as covers on our dirt roads because the natural stem cellulose prevents erosion and controls dust.
    • We grow cover crops to add extra organic matter and natural nitrogen to the soils, plus prevent erosion and control dust while giving the soil better structure to allow water and nutrients to penetrate more easily into the root zone. The cover crops also promote bio diversity among the beneficial bugs and worms living in the vineyard.
    • We employ water-saving “California” irrigation practices of watering only at ends and beginnings of rows.
    • While wine fermentation adds carbon dioxide to the environment, we take carbon dioxide from the vineyards in a calculated balancing program, and are testing a carbon-neutral program.
    • We use only native yeast strains, with no genetically modified organisms that are employed by many other wineries.
    • For our bottling, we utilize a state-of-the-art positive-pressure controlled sealed room which ensures no contaminates get in.
    • Most of our employees ride their bikes to work.
    • Our winery is naturally cooled by a water-irrigated roof and louvers for fresh air, rather than energy consuming air conditioning (all water is recycled to a reservoir in the vineyards, for reuse as irrigation).
    • All packaging leftovers are recycled, including cardboard, plastic and glass. Any small amount of hazardous materials such as batteries and glass are recycled by a certified waste management company.

To further certify our practices, the Chilean government has its own rigorous standards for environmental issues, regulating all our green operations. To maintain our authorization and compliance, we have a full time staff member overseeing our environmental management department.

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