Sonoma VITS strives to provide innovative offerings to support vineyard resilience SANTA ROSA, Calif. (Jan. 14, 2021) – As the pandemic continues, Sonoma County Grape Growers gathered around their laptops and computer screens to review the organization’s efforts over the past year and hear Carissa Kruse, president of Sonoma County Grape Growers, talk about future directions as the 30th annual seminar and trade show went virtual for the first time Thursday morning. Other speakers included Ray Isle, editor-in-chief of Food & Wine magazine, Glenn Proctor of Ciatti Co, Danny Brager, alcohol consultant at Brager Beverage Alcoholing, Peggy Gsell of Nielsen and several focus group speakers.

The event has brought important news to the wine industry in recent years, and the 2021 meeting did not disappoint.  At this year’s forum, Kruse announced that the organization will launch the country’s first innovation accelerator for the wine industry to promote, collaborate and help develop and create short and long-term solutions to ensure the sustainability of vineyards.

Known as Sonoma VITS (Vineyards, Innovation Through Science), this effort builds on Sonoma County’s reputation as a world leader in sustainability and climate change adaptation while meeting the goals of the industry’s 100-year business plan to support local agriculture. Sonoma County is the first 100% certified organic wine region in the country and Sonoma County Winegrowers (SCW) is an exclusive participant in California’s Climate Change Adaptation Certification Program, the first of its kind in the world for agriculture.

Imagine if Shark Tank came to the wine country of Sonoma.  We want to motivate creative solutions to the various challenges our industry faces now and in the future, such as B. water use, habitat protection, climate change adaptation and more, Cruz said.  She went on to say: This is our call to action for Man on the Moon to exploit the best ideas of all innovators.  The companies or individuals with the best ideas are submitted to an advisory group that, like the sharks, decides whether our organization will partner with their business and coordinates the winning proposals with local farmers.

Sonoma VITS will serve as a bridge between the scientific, technological and innovative community and local winemakers, promoting and developing the best ideas that will benefit the region’s vineyards, wineries and people for years to come.    The benefits of this excellence will inspire better thinking and creative ideas to help Sonoma County’s winemakers move forward and find real solutions to some of the most pressing challenges facing the industry in the years ahead.  The first day of filing is this summer.

Sonoma VITS is another initiative of the Sonoma County Center for Sustainable Agriculture, created to solve problems and develop new ideas that can not only advance agriculture in Sonoma County, but also revolutionize viticulture and the entire wine industry worldwide.

On Thursday, Mr. Cruz also took the time to update the public on the organization’s other activities for the coming year.

SCW will launch a new series of trainings to help farmers market and sell their grapes.  The series will cover how to create technology fact sheets that promote grape marketing; how to leverage Sonoma County’s new partnership with the EveryVine website and revamped grape marketplace; how to tell stories effectively; how to use social media; and how to talk about wine to generate producer interest and demand.

Three years ago, SCW introduced a label for sustainably grown grapes, and then the region used augmented reality for the first time to tell a sustainability story to consumers.  The label and augmented reality will be expanded in 2021.

In addition, Sonoma County Vintners will continue this year to expand its popular Millennium Ambassador program, which coordinates more than 175 local contacts in the county who serve as local influences on behalf of Sonoma County.

Mr. Kruse also took the time to provide an update on the current activities of the Sonoma County Vineyarders Foundation, the only non-profit organization in Sonoma County that focuses exclusively on local farmworkers.  Among the many activities the Foundation will conduct this year are four hearings with local farmworkers and their families to ensure the Foundation is meeting the needs of the community.

The event concluded with a virtual Nick Frey Community Contribution Award ceremony, presented to a group of individuals and organizations that have distinguished themselves in a difficult year to support local winemakers and farmers.

Among the honorees were: Ag Health Benefits Alliance; American AgCredit; Atlas Vineyard Management; Bahco; Casa Cristal Nursery, Inc; Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation; Dave Martinelli of Tolay Vista Vineyards; Dutton Ranch; Exchange Bank; George Petersen Insurance; Grow West; Hinkle Charitable Foundation; Judy Jordan; Judy Newman of Robert F. Ford Charitable Foundation; Kaiser Permanente Northern California Community Benefits Program; Peterson Cat; Rodney Strong Wine Estates; Sherry and Pete Swaney; Silicon Valley Bank; Sonoma Clean Energy; Sonoma County Winemakers Foundation; Viticulture Products; Wilbur-Ellis; Miracle Nurseries; Zenith Agribusiness Solutions.

About Sonoma County Grape Growers:

The Sonoma County Viticulture Commission, also known as Sonoma County Winegrowers (SCW), was established in 2006 as a marketing and educational organization dedicated to promoting and preserving Sonoma County as one of the premier wine producing regions in the world. SCW is overseen by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which supports the producing regions. With over 1,800 producers, SCW seeks to promote awareness and appreciation of the quality and diversity of Sonoma County’s grapes and wines through aggressive marketing and educational programs for wine consumers around the world.

In January 2014, SCF promised to become the first region in the country to practice 100% sustainable viticulture by 2019. As of September 2019, 99% of Sonoma County’s vineyard acreage has been certified by a third party, making Sonoma County the most sustainable wine region in the world.  SCW’s sustainability efforts have been recognized with California’s highest environmental award, the 2016 Governor’s Award for Environmental and Economic Leadership (GEELA).  For more information, visit

About the Vineyard Fund :

The Sonoma County Vineyards Foundation (SCVF) was established in 2002 as a 501(c)(3) organization to fund Spanish-language training workshops for agricultural professionals. In January 2016, FCSGFCS resumed its work to improve the lives of Sonoma County farmworkers and their families while ensuring that Sonoma County remains a place where farmworkers can continue to live, work and thrive.  The FGCS works with various community organizations and government agencies to identify existing resources, build on existing support, and create new programs to help local farmworkers and their families. The focus is on health care, affordable housing, child care and education.  The foundation is led by Sonoma County winemakers, with a 12-member board of directors consisting of Sonoma County farm leaders, vineyard owners, wine managers and other Sonoma County executives.


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