In 2004, industry groups from throughout the state asked regional Cooperative Extension grape programs to develop an outreach and education program to promote the adoption of sustainable viticultural practices in New York vineyards. New York State’s sustainable viticulture program is a cooperative effort between industry groups, the Finger Lakes Grape Program, Lake Erie Regional Grape Program and Long Island’s grape extension program. It is designed to both document sustainable grape growing practices already in place and promote sustainable practices throughout the industry. The foundation of the program is its grower self-assessment workbook – 134 questions in 8 sections covering the multitude of management decisions made by New York State grape growers.
The workbook sections evolved from materials of two earlier programs in New York: NYS Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) worksheets and the Long Island Sustainable Practices Workbook. Throughout the winter of 2005-2006, a steering committee composed of extension, research, industry and grower representatives (from National Grape Cooperative, Centerra Wine Co., and Finger Lakes and Long Island vineyards), reviewed and developed questions that encompass the practices used in the varied growing regions of New York. The workbook acts as a roadmap for evaluating viticultural practices, addressing the diversity of the state’s grape growing industry with a broad range of questions.
During the summer and fall of 2006, five growers from each of the three cooperative program areas volunteered to field-test the workbook and provide feedback on possible improvements with the content, format and style of the first draft. Final revisions were made, and in 2007, VineBalance’s New York Guide to Sustainable Viticulture Practices Grower Self-assessment Workbook was published.
Development of the workbook was funded by grants from:
Center for Risk Management Education
York Farm Viability Institute
Erie Regional Grape Program, Inc.
York Wine and Grape Foundation
Continued outreach has been funded through a grant from the New York Farm Viability Institute.