Southbrook Vineyards at the Forefront of Sustainable Wineries – LEED® Gold Certified

By: Adriana Rezai-Stevens

The wine industry and the natural environment are closely connected, making sustainable winegrowing ecologically important. The Niagara Peninsula houses multiple wineries that make up a fraction of the total 17,102 acres of winery property in Ontario. Southbrook Vineyards is Canada’s first biodynamic winery, and is a great exemplar for sustainable agriculture in Ontario. This was the first winery building to achieve LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Certification by the Canada Green Building Council in 2008. This rating scheme sets the global standard and encourages the adoption of green building systems. 

Biodynamic agriculture treats soil fertility, plant growth, and livestock care as ecologically interrelated where spiritual values are upheld. It stems from organic farming, however differs as it is a closed system where outside resources are not used and the farm is considered to be a single living entity. It has been labelled a pseudoscience by some; however, the practices have been scientifically proven to enhance soil integrity, and the health of plants, animals, and insects within and surrounding the system.

At Southbrook, manures from livestock within the farm combined with composts are used to fertilize the soil in place of traditional pesticides that use harsh chemicals. This is great for preserving soil and plant health. This method limits water use, energy use, and eliminates bioengineering and genetic modification of crops. Since less water is used, this limits runoff into nearby waterways. Due to the removal of chemical fertilizers, any residual water that makes its way back into the water system will be free of toxic materials and safe for fish, insects and other animals to consume or come in contact with.

Becoming LEED® certified means that Southbrook is at the forefront of green energy initiatives for Ontario wineries. This has set a new standard for sustainable winemaking, and this kind of leadership should in turn push other wineries to follow suit.

Southbrook is able to minimize energy use by including roof overhangs to shade the building and insulated walls featuring double-glazed windows to control temperature transfer. The floor-to-ceiling windows allow for 95% of natural light to be used in all work areas, minimizing the need for electric lighting, while the lights outdoors shine downwards to reduce light pollution. The building consists of white reflective PVC roof that keeps the building cool and minimizes the “heat island effect“. This is all built using mostly local, recycled materials. Being a closed system, Southbrook uses their wetland to treat waste water on site and use that to water the surrounding soil, instead of contributing waste water to the Town`s sewage line. Click here to view their “Green Map“ and learn more.

When thinking about sustainability and land management, one may not consider wineries to be particularly important. Southbrook and other wineries implementing sustainable initiatives have demonstrated how decisions made on a daily basis ranging from taking public transit to purchasing a particular brand of wine can have a positive impact on the planet.

For more information on Southbrook Vineyards, you can visit their website at www.southbrook.com and even visit their winery during Green Energy Doors Open for even more insight.