Soter credits Oregon winemaker and sustainability advocate Susan Sokol Blosser "for opening my eyes to the greater meaning of sustainability."
// Photo by Joseph Eastburn
Outside of his winery, Soter is making an impact by informing wine growers that when he buys additional pinot noir grapes for Planet Oregon and for his North Valley label, he will buy only from vineyards that are certified sustainable.
“That’s how growers can buy into the Planet Oregon concept, by selling grapes to us,” he says. “We want to see more certified sustainable acres and we also want to send a message that it’s high time consumers had a chance to have sustainability as an added value.”
To that end, in April New Seasons and some Fred Meyer stores put up special displays for Planet Oregon. There are now 17 other Oregon wineries certified through the Carbon Neutral Challenge program.
Soter wears his heart on his whimsical Planet Oregon label that delivers a message about the value of his earth-friendly product. The label also informs consumers that $1 from each bottle is donated to the OEC. In February, he and his wife made a $5,400 donation for 2011 sales.
"By big business standards, that’s certainly small potatoes,” Soter says, “but it’s a significant commitment and it’s putting our money where our mouth is.”
Soter is gradually boosting production and distribution of Planet Oregon, going from last year’s Oregon-only 500 cases to 600 cases for sales in Oregon and Washington this year. The following year’s sales will be in 10 states and eventually Planet Oregon will take on the nation.
At 60, Soter has found true fulfillment in blending quality with ecology. “I’ve never been happier in the wine business,” he says.