TURNER, Ore., May 22 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The Rainforest Alliance
raises a glass to Willamette Valley Vineyards (Nasdaq: WVVI), which is set
to become the first winery in the world to use cork stoppers harvested from
responsibly managed forestlands certified by the Forest Stewardship Council
(FSC). The winery, based in Turner, Oregon, was recently awarded FSC
Chain-of- Custody certification by the Rainforest Alliance.
"Cork stoppers that come from responsibly managed forestlands are the
only choice for wineries that want to have a positive environmental and
social impact," said Jamie Lawrence, European Forestry Division Manager for
the Rainforest Alliance. "Willamette's commitment to supporting responsible
cork production in rural communities in the Mediterranean is commendable
and progressive, fitting of a world-class winery that focuses on making
The Rainforest Alliance was responsible for awarding FSC certification
at each step throughout the process, beginning with certifying the worlds
first cork forest in 2005, later certifying the cork manufacturing
facilities, owned by the Amorim Group, and now certifying Willamette Valley
Vineyards to help achieve this global first in the wine industry.
Carlos de Jesus, marketing and communications director for Amorim &
Irmaos S.A., the world's largest cork processor and the first FSC-certified
cork company, congratulated Willamette on its certification. "We would like
to emphasize the unique role that natural cork plays in responding to the
market demands for environmentally and socially responsible wine closures,"
de Jesus said. "The wine industry is responding to a demand by informed
consumers that is resulting in the conservation of fragile ecosystems and
the reduction of the industry's carbon footprint."
The use of cork is essential to protect the environment as wineries are
increasingly using plastic stoppers and aluminum screw caps due to concerns
about tainting, oxidation and leakage. However, ensuring that forests are
managed responsibly and are also economically viable plays a crucial role
in conserving them and maintaining the culture of cork farming that has
existed for thousands of years. Cork is renewable and biodegradable, and
not a single tree is cut down to harvest cork. The bark of the cork oak
tree renews itself and can be stripped off every decade to extract cork
without damaging the trees.
The wine industry plays a critical role in maintaining the economic
value of cork and the cork oak forests. Unless the commercial value of cork
stoppers is maintained, there is a risk that cork oak landscapes could face
an economic crisis, loss of biodiversity and an accelerated desertification
process. Cork oak landscapes cover about 2.7 million hectares of land in
Portugal, Spain, Algeria, Morocco, Italy, Tunisia and France. The cork
forests in the Iberian Peninsula produce more than half the cork consumed
worldwide. They are a biodiversity hot spot, home to endangered species and
one of the last natural forest ecosystems in Western Europe. They also
provide a vital source of income for tens of thousands of people.
Willamette Valley Vineyards produces some 100,000 cases of principally
Pinot Noir annually that is distributed throughout the United States,
Canada and the Pacific Rim. Starting with the 2006 vintage Pinot Noir that
will be bottled in July 2007, the winery will begin using FSC-certified
cork stoppers in all its bottles. The corks will be imprinted with the FSC
and Rainforest Alliance logo, and bottle labels will also bear both
certification seals. The wine will be available to consumers in the United
States starting in fall 2007 and with plans to distribute in the United
Kingdom in the next couple years.
"We think about every aspect of how we can walk as softly as possible
in pursuing our goal of making world-class Pinot Noir," said Jim Bernau,
founder and president of Willamette Valley Vineyards. "The question is:
What is the best choice for the long-term health of the planet? The clear
answer is natural cork that comes from a responsibly managed forest."
Willamette Valley Vineyard's cork stoppers will come from one of four
currently FSC-certified cork forests, three of which were certified by the
Rainforest Alliance, the first of which being Fruticor -- a group of small
landowners and managers -- that was certified by the Rainforest Alliance in
early 2005 in the Alentejo region of Portugal.
Why choose cork? Find out more here:
See photos of cork harvesting:
The Rainforest Alliance works to conserve biodiversity and ensure
sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business
practices and consumer behavior. For more information, visit
Willamette Valley Vineyards, Inc. is headquartered in Turner, Oregon.
The company is one of Oregon's leading Pinot Noir producers and the state's
only publicly held winery. Willamette Valley Vineyards is the owner of
Tualatin Estate Vineyards and Griffin Creek wines. Willamette Valley
Vineyards common stock is traded on NASDAQ (Symbol: WVVI).
SOURCE Willamette Valley Vineyards, Inc.