Vancouver– A new winery from an old and respected name in the industry has earned Salmon-Safe status in the Okanagan Valley. Culmina Family Estate Winery is the newest venture of Don and Elaine Triggs. Joined by their daughter, Sara, Culmina will now operate according to ‘salmon-friendly’ environmental guidelines with the help of some high-tech support.
Culmina Family Estate Winery is the result of a lifetime of experience in the wine industry for Don, Elaine, and Sara Triggs. The Triggs have invested heavily in science and technology at Culmina with an eye to creating high-end wines while raising the bar for environmental stewardship in the region. The Salmon-Safe program is delivered in B.C. by the Pacific Salmon Foundation in partnership with the Fraser Basin Council. Salmon-Safe is an eco-certification program that encourages farmers to use agricultural practices that protect Pacific salmon habitat and water quality.
"Quality and environmental stewardship have a hand-in-glove relationship in the wine-growing business," said Costanza Testino, Program Manager for Salmon-Safe B.C. "The Triggs have adopted mobile and cloud-based technology that collects real-time soil moisture, evaporation and temperature data in their vineyard, allowing them to adjust the amount of water being applied to each micro-block, thereby creating optimal growing conditions and flavour while minimizing water consumption. It exemplifies water conservation at its best."
In a desert-region with limited water supply, the Okanagan community is working to recover salmon, a cornerstone of Okanagan food and culture. The practices adopted at Culmina are helping to create a healthy ecosystem and conserve water for salmon to swim upstream and reach their spawning grounds.
Adds Don Triggs: "we are committed to sustainable farming practices, including the conservation of water resources as we strive to retain the beauty and vitality of our vineyard for our grandchildren’s grandchildren."
The Triggs are also experimenting with dryland farming techniques on a portion of their estate. Young Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah vines have been planted directly into the hillside, with these ‘bush’ vines grafted onto drought tolerant, aggressive rootstocks. The hope is that when these goblet-trained vines mature in a couple of years’ time, their root systems will be hardy enough to work their way deep into the sub-soil for water and nutrients without the need for irrigation. Pascal Madevon, Culmina’s Vineyard Manager & Winemaker adds "the bush vine project offers a new perspective in the Okanagan Valley about the preservation of water resources, the use of previously un-used slopes for viticulture, and the expression of new terroirs in Okanagan wines."
The Triggs have also undertaken some pronounced measures to prevent erosion on the property. Salmon need porous gravel to spawn. Erosion can choke salmon eggs by covering gravel and preventing the salmon from accessing gravel to lay their eggs. Fine sediment also hampers visibility and fishes’ ability to find food, and can carry toxins with it. To prevent these issues, the Triggs hand-picked 3,500 tonnes of rock off the vineyard and crushed it into gravel to use for stabilizing vineyard roads. In 2014, they also eliminated the use of pesticides in the vineyard that could be harmful to aquatic life.
Since its opening in August 2013, Culmina has been praised as one of the most promising wineries, with its first release receiving numerous accolades from across the country. Now the Triggs have taken things a step further by becoming Salmon-Safe.
About Culmina Family Estate Winery:
Culmina Family Estate Winery, located on the Golden Mile Bench in the South Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, is the result of a lifetime of experience in the wine industry for Don, Elaine and Sara Triggs. Through their hard work, scientific study, commitment to craft, unwavering pursuit of excellence and a longstanding faith in the potential for Icon quality wines from Canadian soil, Culmina Family Estate Winery was born.
Established in Oregon in 1996, Salmon-Safe has been working with farmers throughout the West Coast to promote conservation practices and habitat restoration. In 2011, the Pacific Salmon Foundation and Fraser Basin Council joined forces to deliver the certification in British Columbia. To date, almost 10,000 acres of farmland have been certified across B.C., including producers of wine, fruit, vegetables and meat.
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