Raising a glass to preserve local farmland

Seattle — The state of Washington is a top grower of produce, yet over the next decade, seven out of every 10 farmers will retire with no successor.

There is no one to take over for them.

“The farms are disappearing. Once it’s paved, it’s gone and it’s no longer really retrievable,” said Rebecca Sadinsky, CEO of PCC Farmland Trust, an organization that works to preserve farmland and keep it from being sold for other purposes.

And the group does that in some rather creative ways.

The trust just kicked off the 10th year of its partnership with Powers Winery.

Seri Sedlacek, now a wine steward at PCC Markets, was working at Powers 10 years ago, when an idea for a partnership came up over lunch.

“We were trying to dream up a way to have a significant and long term impact to help the PCC farmland trust,” said Sedlacek.

Powers wines are certified organic.

“We kind of have a responsibility to spread the message to let people know that organic works,” said Mickey Dunne, sales manager at Powers Winery.

Powers created two wines specifically for this partnership, Farmland Trust Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.

The first year, the winery produced fewer than 500 cases of wine; $2 of each bottle goes directly to the Farmland Trust. The wine typically sells out before the next vintage is available. This year’s vintage just hit store shelves; about 1,000 cases total.

“And the best part is that wine inside really delicious,” said Sedlacek.

So far this partnership alone has raised more than $166,000 for preserving farmland, which is disappearing at an alarming rate, despite the fact that the average sales price in Washington state is 25 percent higher than a year ago, according to the trust. It is now among the most expensive farmland in the U.S.

The trust works statewide, but Sadinski said its immediate focus is in the central Puget Sound region.

“That’s particularly important when you consider how fast our area is growing and how endangered our farmland is near our cities in particular,” said Sadinsky.

With the new vintage of Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon now in PCC stores, Powers winery and PCC Farmland Trust seem positioned and ready to raise a glass to preserve farmland for the next 10 years.