free run juice

grapefriend goes green!

Welcome to Green Week, the sexiest week on grapefriend! Don’t think green is sexy? I’ve got someone who’d disagree!

Earth Day is this weekend, and it’s mid-April and in the 80’s so things are officially dire. We all know that our activity is releasing tons of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide into the atmosphere. As of last April, CO2 levels were reportedly higher than any time in the last 650,000 years, causing global warming, loss of sea ice, glacier retreat, more intense heat waves, stronger hurricanes, and more droughts. Fun times!

By no means do I think winemaking is the largest offender to the environment spiral, but it is farming-based and I’ve been psyched to see so many wineries doing things that will keep their farms and soil healthy for future generations. Grapefriends to the rescue!

Here are just some basic terms you’ll see on wine labels – play a little Green (Day) music while you read!

organic

Farming without chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. “Organic grapes” means they didn’t use any of these things. “Organic wine” means they didn’t add any sulfites (which preserves wine) during the winemaking process.

sustainable

All farming done to preserve the land so that the farm is never depleted and is in a healthy, living, nutrient-rich state for all current and future generations. Some practices: composting, using natural predators instead of chemical sprays, anything that helps farmers minimize water use, chemical additions and turning of the soil.

biodynamic

A holistic philosophy where the farm is seen as a living organism and connected ecosystem. Water is reused, animals eat the cover crops left between vines and their waste rebuilds the soil. It can get a little new age-y too: homeopathic treatments replace chemical applications, and a scheduling philosophy involves the movement of the planets to identify when to do certain farm and cellar activities.

These are very basic definitions! Feel free to explore more on your own, but you get the gist. There are lots of official organizations that wineries join to keep the green momentum going, and tons of them are doing amazing things for the environment. For now, a few random shout-outs to wineries doing fun stuff (and listen to more green music):

Anaba – one of the first wineries to utilize wind power as an alternative energy source

Stoller – had the first winery building that was LEED-certified

Manincor – biodynamic winery in Alto Adige that makes casks from their own oak and honey from bees that pollinate the vineyards, uses sheep and chickens as “lawn mowers” and pruners, and even makes cosmetics/face lotions from the vine sap

Carmel Road – falconers keep away vineyard pests in a sustainable manner by chasing away other predators in the vineyards, reducing the use of fuel that would be required by ATVs

Benziger  sheep go through the estate vineyard eating the overgrown cover crop, aerating the soil and providing a natural fertilizer. This video about them is also really cute http://www.benziger.com/animals. Benziger also has great info on all of the above practices here http://www.benziger.com/Winegrowing-Practices

For the rest of the week grapefriend will cover other great green things happening in wine, as well as really delicious green wines to drink (you prob didn’t even know some of them were green)! Sexy!

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