Rooted for Good

Learn about the sustainability efforts of Jackson Family Wines

An array of solar panels at Willakenzie Estate. ## Photo provided by Jackson Family Wines
Jackson Family Wines’ Eugenia Keegan, senior vice president of winegrowing and business development. ##Photo by Carolyn Wells-Kramer
Willakenzie Estate guests might see resident longhorn cattle during their tastings. ##Photo by Andrea Johnson

By Brooke Strickland

Since planting its first chardonnay grapes in 1974, Jackson Family Wines’ portfolio now includes vineyards in California, Oregon, South Africa, Italy, France, Chile and Australia. Even with significant growth, the Jackson family has remained committed to staying connected to the land– respecting it, preserving wetland and wildlife habitats and working diligently to make a positive impact on the planet.

“We continually evaluate how we can lessen our environmental impacts in everything we do,” said Eugenia Keegan, senior vice president of winegrowing and business development for Jackson Family Wines. “But what sets us apart is a willingness to be bold, set ambitious goals and invest in the future of our business to ensure it continues on for generations to come.”

Introduced in 2021, “Rooted for Good: Roadmap to 2030” is their comprehensive action plan to reduce carbon emissions, move every vineyard to regenerative farming and deploy smart water management practices that conserve water and enhance local watersheds. The goal is to reduce Jackson Family Wines’ carbon footprint in half by 2030 and, by 2050, be climate positive by saving more greenhouse gas emissions than they generate.

Keegan says the initiative began by assembling a wide range of employees and external stakeholders in building a roadmap for the future. With more than 75 people, including: Jackson family members, senior executives, winemakers, vineyard managers, marketing specialists, soil scientists, climate experts, and many more, the organization developed and launched the initiative with a mission to achieve their goals.

“We always knew this was an ambitious plan requiring plenty of thought, energy, strategic leadership, innovation and collaboration among our internal stakeholders and also across the global wine industry,” Keegan explained. “We also realized it wouldn’t be easy and expected speed bumps and hurdles along the way.”

The team is motivated about discussing strategies and solutions by co-founding International Wineries for Climate Action, which now includes 50 wineries around the world.

Keegan said, “Everything we do is very methodical. We want to make sure to give our farming teams and winemakers time to test all these out, to ‘put dirt on the tires,’ and compare technologies. We want to choose the best options for our grape growing and winemaking needs.”

During the last two years, Jackson Family Wines has invested in additional renewable energy across the company. Last year, they signed contracts to expand their solar portfolio by 44 percent, generating an estimated additional four million kWh each year. They also installed 24 new electric vehicle chargers around offices, tasting rooms, wineries and vineyards. And in 2024, they plan to install 23 more.

As it relates specifically to Oregon wines, Keegan reports they are thrilled by the progress made so far with the Rooted for Good initiative. Two of their estate vineyard properties, Zena Crown and Maple Grove, are part of a Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research grant studying the impacts of regenerative farming practices on soil health and carbon sequestration.

Keegan said, “Hopefully, this research will help our entire wine industry better understand how regenerative farming can sequester carbon in the soils, thereby supporting our collective goals of carbon footprint reduction to become climate positive.”

In addition, only 35 percent of Jackson Family Wines’ acreage is planted with vines. Protected open spaces support natural habitats, wildlife and more.

“When looking at our entire Oregon operation, we generate enough onsite renewable energy to offset the annual consumption of 15 Oregon homes,” Keegan shared. “We have adopted several new initiatives aimed at further lowering our carbon footprint.”

At Jackson Family Wines’ WillaKenzie Estate, a solar array currently supplies 30-40 percent of its power. They plan to expand soon, with the goal of generating all of the electricity they need. The estate is also transitioning to totally electric models by replacing all gas-powered forklifts with electric ones.

While there are a variety of hurdles to overcome– including supply chain issues and manufacturing delays– Jackson Family Wines has never lost sight of their mission to advance sustainability solutions.

“There are so many things to be excited about as we reach our goals for Rooted for Good,” Keegan said. “Our team is out in the marketplace speaking to wine trade and consumers every day. It’s clear that sustainability remains an important topic and something everyone is thinking about. We believe that sustainability is a great way to help consumers connect wine with a sense of place in the vineyard. We educate on how we’re building soil health and supporting local ecosystems and natural habitats. All this is possible while also making a delicious, memorable bottle of wine that brings people together.”

As the team works to better support our planet, Keegan says that Earth and their relationship with it will continue to be the guiding force of Jackson Family Wines.

She noted, “Oregon is known for its agriculture so this work is mandatory if we want to continue enjoying our way of life. These many efforts are about the soil health, the earth, and the life it provides. We must respect and feed the soil to bring life to the planet. If we can build and support a healthy ecosystem, we believe we can farm for generations to come.”

A lifelong resident of the Pacific Northwest, Brooke Strickland is a full-time freelance writer that specializes in writing blogs, website content, and business news for companies & publications around the country. She is also the co-author of Hooked on Games, a book about technology and video game addiction. When she's not writing, you can find her on her porch swing reading a historical fiction novel with a glass of rosé or hanging out with her husband and 2 kids. 

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