"Salmon Safe" wines catching on in the northwest - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

"Salmon Safe" wines catching on in the northwest

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WALLA WALLA, Wash.--  You may have seen the words "Salmon Safe" on the wine list at your favorite restaurant.  It's an earth-friendly practice that seems to be catching on in the Northwest and the Walla Walla Valley.

According to the Salmon-Safe website, it says it "helps vineyards protect and restore salmon habitat by planting trees on streams, growing cover crops to control run-off, and apply natural methods to control weeds and pests."

In Walla Walla, some growers have started Vinea, a trust of growers using salmon safe and sustainable practices.  Jean-Francois Pellet, chair of Vinea and winemaker at Pepper Bridge, a certified Salmon Safe winery, says growers have to meet certain guidelines for more than two years in order to have their vineyards certified.   He explains, "The biggest guidelines are toward the water and protection of the salmon."

Growers have to pay attention to how they control weeds and pests.. And how they fertilize the soil.  "We have to be also very careful with erosion as well as creek, river, or watershed contamination," Pellet says.  He irrigates his vineyards through a drip line and with precise calculations so that there's no runoff.  Also, Pellet says he has other crops, such as lavender.  

According to Vinea, sustainable and salmon safe are catching on.  Pellet explains, "We started with a couple hundred acres to today we have a little over 1,250 acres enrolled in Salmon Safe and Vinea program. " Now, there are about 35 growers in the Walla Walla valley who are certified Salmon Safe and that number is expected to keep growing.