Jowler Creek Winery Recognized for Outstanding Ground-to-Glass Sustainability Programs
We received some exciting news, and wanted to be the first to let you know...We earned a gold medal from the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT®) 2019 International Award of Excellence in Sustainable Winegrowing competition!
The recognition program was created to applaud wineries that are taking a leading role in implementing sustainable practices and sharing their lessons learned. Also winning a gold medal in 2019 was E. & J. Gallo Winery from Calif.
Where other competitions may focus on the end product—the wine itself—this competition focuses on taste and a winery’s real-world application of the three tenets of sustainability: environmental, economic, and social.
Recognition of our winery was based on the winery’s ongoing sustainable programs that address three key factors of sustainability – environmental, economic, and social aspects -- as well as superior wine taste. Jowler Creek submitted an extensive self-assessment application and provided sample bottles of wine for judging.
In announcing the award, Chris Chilton, director of Marketing & PR for BRIT noted the following: “From their work in the field and wine production to Jowler (Creek’s) social programs for its workforce and community outreach with the Eco Trail program, they are to be commended.” He added, “The bottle of Estate Norton was also a fine example of how taste matches such a great program. Honestly, it raised the eyebrows of the judges.”
Jowler Creek Winery is one of the Most Sustainable Wineries in the World
Our path to becoming Missouri’s First Green Winery began a decade ago when we began searching for a system to control weeds while simultaneously reducing erosion. This led to the idea of grazing sheep under the grape vines. Though skeptical at first, Jowler Creek owner Jason Gerke agreed to try the idea and has since fully embraced the goal of increasing production while reducing the carbon footprint of the vineyard and winery.
We often tell our guests that being green means making choices throughout the year to positively impact our environment, being efficient with the resources we have available and improving our wine quality to sustain our business. The fact that our family's home is in the middle of the vineyard, and just yards away from the winery, leads us to try and do everything we can to protect the environment and sustain our business for ourselves and the next generation.
For us it is a lot of little things that we hope add up to have a positive, sustainable impact. Here’s a list of many of the tactics we have implemented over the years to improve our environment, our product and our bottom line.
At Jowler Creek, sustainability starts in the vineyard. We’ve incorporated a variety of methods to minimize erosion and soil loss, reduce harmful inputs and runoff, and encourage natural biodiversity. As a result, we get the most flavorful and delicious grapes possible. Take a look at our sustainable practices in the vineyard:
During the growing season we maintain a small flock of sheep to “mow” under the Norton vines, helping eliminate the use of herbicides, minimize soil erosion, decrease dependence on fossil fuels and improve soil health.
Our flock of free-range laying hens helps control crawling insects naturally, enabling us to reduce or eliminate insecticide use in the vineyard. They also produce delicious free-range eggs that are sold by the dozen in the tasting room.
Grape vines are self-pollinators and don’t require honey bees to set the fruit. However, our honey bee colony helps improve the cover crops between the rows and surrounding ecosystems that help vines via increased biodiversity and improved soil health. They also produce raw honey that can be sold in the tasting room.
Bat houses encourage bats to naturally manage pests and maintain biodiversity in the landscape.
Our automated drip irrigation system uses 30 - 50% less water than conventional sprinkler method by providing precise water volume to the vine’s root zone. It helps us conserve water by reducing erosion and evaporation while improving overall soil health.
Solar power is used to electrify the fence surrounding the vineyard.
All skins, stems, and seeds from the winemaking process are composted and spread between the vines, to provide nutrients and organic soil amendments.
As members of the Missouri Conservation Stream Team, we help keep the local watershed cleaner and safer. We work to keep the creek free of waste and harmful run-off, and seek to effectively manage the creek’s natural ecosystem.
Grapes from our vineyard are processed in our green-built winery facility, where we strive to decrease our carbon footprint by improving efficiency, quantifying and saving water and energy, and reducing waste. Take a look at our sustainable practices in the winery:
A 5-kilowatt array of solar PV panels offsets electric power needs for the tasting room. Since January 2011, our solar array has offset 24,868 kilograms of CO2. That’s equivalent to the carbon removal capability of nearly 5 acres of trees in the U.S.
Tesla and Level 2 electric vehicle (EV) chargers are available for customers to use on-site.
We also use a 100% electric-powered Nissan LEAF to run errands and deliver wine around town.
Oak alternatives—such as toasted staves from Missouri-based coopers—are used in lieu of barrels.
While we use more than 30,000 glass bottles each year when bottling our wine, we partner with community recycling programs including Ripple Glass and the Mid-America Regional Council Soil Waste Management District to recycle as much packaging material, keeping it out of local landfills. We have the goal of being a zero-waste winemaking facility within three years.
The tasting room and production area are sided with 90% recycled steel, and framed with wood that is certified to the requirements of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Program. Products used to build the roof are in accordance with the ENERGY STAR cool roof certification. Walls are painted with environmentally-responsive Zero-VOC formula paint.The walls and roof are insulated with the spray-foam to create an air-tight seal.
We’ve incorporated numerous native plants and grasses into our landscaping to provide the resources necessary for Monarch Butterflies and other pollinators (including our resident bees!) to produce successive generations and sustain their migration.
Five additional wineries - two from the U.S., two from Italy, and one from Portugal, also won awards based on their strong sustainable programs. BRIT’s 2019 platinum winner is Casa Ferreirinha, a Portuguese brand in Douro Wines. In addition to Jowler Creek, gold medals were awarded to Sandeman from Portugal; Tasca D’Almerita from from Italy; and E. & J. Gallo Winery from Calif., USA. A silver medal was awarded to Ruffino of Italy.
History of BRIT Excellence in Sustainable Winegrowing Award
In 2010, recognizing the natural connection between botany and winemaking, BRIT created the International Award of Excellence in Sustainable Winegrowing to applaud wineries that are taking a leading role in implementing sustainable practices and sharing their lessons learned. At this time, it is the only international award of its kind. The bases for the competition include: innovative sustainable practices in the categories of air, water, and land in both winegrowing and winemaking; social responsibility practices; economic responsibility; and wine taste. All wineries that are actively demonstrating a commitment to sustainability are encouraged to participate.