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Our Sustainable Practices



 On the White Bluffs overlooking the last free-flowing stretch of the mighty Columbia River, visionary Russell Claar planted eight acres of wine grapes in 1979.  That block of Riesling has since developed into more than 120 acres under the stewardship of daughter Crista and her husband Bob Whitelatch who bring a down-to-earth, family approach to the production of fine wines.  Included in this fourth generation enterprise are sons John and James who are now working fulltime with their parents to manage and develop Claar Cellars L.L.C.. In this distinct microclimate, ranked as one of the best winegrowing regions of the state, Estate-quality grapes produce the delicate expression of our unique terroir in every glass.  Claar Cellars, established in 1996, believes that wine should be fun, affordable and an integral part of the good life and produces Premium wine that is sold in bulk and bottles to wineries and distributors throughout the US.


Claar Cellars L.L.C. WHITE BLUFFS VINEYARD and Claar Cellars Winery have successfully met the requirements of LIVE, Inc. and are granted the right to use the LIVE, IOBC, and Salmon-Safe logos effective January 2012. LIVE stands for Low Input Viticulture and Enology. This refers to the practice of limiting the amount of raw materials (inputs such as pesticides, fertilizer, water, chemicals, fuel, etc.) used in vineyard and winery production, LIVE uses international standards of sustainable viticultural and enological practices in both wine-grape and wine production. These practices are based on an independent 3rd-party-verified checklist system consisting of required and prohibited elements, as well as numerous ecological options. Members must complete two years of farming under LIVE standards before achieving certification. All members must undergo rigorous 3rd-party inspections to verify these practices. Claar Cellars is one of only three wineries in Washington State with this certification (Live, inc. 2012). 

The IOBC is the International Organization for the Biological and Integrated Control of Noxious Animals and Plants. This organization sets the protocols from which LIVE draws its standards. Every year LIVE applies for endorsement from the IOBC. This international endorsement proves compliance to GLOBALGAP standards (, a recognized and highly regarded standard for agricultural production. The IOBC promotes the use of sustainable, environmentally safe, economically feasible, and socially acceptable control methods of pests and diseases of agricultural and forestry crops. Certified LIVE members are also internationally certified by the IOBC (Live, Inc. 2012).

Salmon-Safe is an organization dedicated to protection of fish habitat through watershed management. 


Claar Cellars strives to develop proactive and preventative, sustainable agricultural practices. These include the use of integrated pest management and beneficial cover crops.  All of Claar Cellars brand wines are Estate grown and bottled and use White Bluffs Vineyards LIVE, IOBC and Salmon-Safe certified grapes. 


Claar Cellars has also undergone power management activities such as replacing all 12 metal-halide bulb lamps in the winery production and barrel storage area areas with four lamp T-5 bays. In an average year, a T-5 bay uses half of the power of a metal-halide bulb (Electrical Marketplace Inc, 2008). As well as changes to lighting, both the existing winery building and barrel room as well as the case good storage building, currently in construction, are heated and cooled through ground water and excess heat produced by the glycol cooling system. During the summer ground water is pumped through a vent system which cools all the barrel room and the glycol cooling system is used in the production facility. In the winter months excess heat from the glycol cooling system is distributed to the winery through the same system. This results in substantial energy savings versus using a standard heating and cooling system to temperature control 26000+ square feet of open warehouse. Claar Cellars has also switched to a variable speed glycol pump for its entire tank cooling system. This allows the pump to cycle on and off based on the demand, as opposed to running constantly at full pressure. This uses roughly half the pumps energy requirement. All grey water produced at the winery is also recaptured and circulated into the irrigation system.


Claar Cellars Winner in Green Washington Awards


Claar Cellars has been named one of the 50 greenest companies in Washington State and winner in the agricultural/natural resources category in the Seattle Business Magazine 2012 Green Washington awards.  This is in recognition of Claar Cellars continued work on sustainable practices both in farming and business operations.

The first vineyard site was planted by Russell Claar in 1979. Its location overlooking the Columbia River required a different approach to farming due to the soft sandy soil. The risk of soil erosion required constant attention to water use and cultivation of natural plants. Claar has continued developing new ways to be energy efficient and reduce inputs in farming including the use of grape skins as road paving, variable speed pumps and energy efficient lighting to reduce electricity use, continued development of natural plant life to control pests and limit the use of pesticides, and heating and cooling of all structures with ground water and excess captured heat. “Everything we have, everything we create is brought out of this land” says Bob Whitelatch, owner, “why would we do anything but treat it with absolute care and respect?”

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