Our vineyards, the largest in the state, became the first to receive the Agriculture Stewardship Assurance Program (ASAP) certification in the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s new specialty crop category. ASAP was launched to recognize farmers who are doing the best for Missouri’s land, farms and families.
“Ever since starting the winery and growing grapes, my family has been conscientious of caring for the land,” says Peter Hofherr, Chairman and CEO of St. James Winery. “Agriculture sustains this region’s economic base and we take responsibility for our land by using efficient and sustainable practices. This helps the long-term quality and success of our business, our community and our future generations.”
ASAP is a certification program that champions Missouri farmers who are responsible stewards of the land, provide safe food for consumers, practice environmental stewardship and use science-based technology for growing safe and dependable feed, fuel, specialty crops or fiber in a socially and economic manner. It was launched in 2015.
“This certification validates what we are doing,” says Andrew Meggitt, Executive Winemaker at St. James Winery. “It is very important to our farm crew to be recognized for how much care they take in sustainably growing grapes. Without their attention to detail, we wouldn’t have quality fruit. We all strive to leave the land better than when we found it; that’s the goal every day.”
At 185 acres, our vineyards have been producing grapes since 1973. We use moisture probes at the root zone to efficiently water plants only when needed. We plant buffer strips using cover crops like clover, radishes, winter wheat and rye to control erosion and water loss, and to protect surface water. Switching to more fuel efficient equipment means we use 50% less fuel. Grape waste from harvest goes back to the vineyards in the form of mulch. These examples of best management practices, along with many others, are why we received the certification.