The latest study with news we should pay attention to: suitable winemaking areas will decrease between 25% and 73% by 2050. That’s the impact global warming will have on some wine regions, creating potential water conservation issues. There are all different levels of how green wineries can get, and along the way they have to follow a bunch of standards that improve the environmental health of the ecosystem, society and wine quality. Like lots of wineries now use Gravity Flow, which harnesses gravity to move wine from the crush pad, into the tanks, and then into barrels, reducing their carbon footprint.
Some people say all of this stuff is bullshit, expensive, and doesn’t improve the taste of the wine anyway. Some say all of these efforts preserve the earth and also make wines that are not only true to the grape variety, vintage, and vineyard but far more zippy and delicious. In my tasting experience, the ones that really come alive and often blow my mind are the ones who use biodynamic farming (more on that tomorrow). But I’m down with anyone who’s going to try to go organic and keep land viable for grape-growing for years to come. So here are a few shout outs to wineries doing really cool green things.
Vineyard 29 generates all on-site electricity with microturbine system (only winery in the U.S. to use this system), which makes the winery 250 percent more efficient and produces one-tenth of the emissions of typical utility power. Water is treated electronically through the microturbine systems, eliminating the use of all chemicals in the water treatment process.
Domaine Carneros is the first and only sparkling winery in the US whose estate vineyards are all certified organic. They also have lighting by skylights, night cooling systems to maintain cellar temperature, and build into the earth for insulation.
They devoted 20 acres of their property to habitat restoration projects. Even back in the 80’s they were planting native oaks to re-establish native habitat buffer zones between their vineyards and the local waterways. They wanted to encourage natural predators and put hundreds of owl and songbird nesting boxes in the vineyards, along with wood duck boxes near the waters.
Farming for the Future is a system they created to enhance the soil, create a balanced, sustainable ecology, minimize water use and reduce non-organic wastes. They even have an extensive olive tree-planting program and an organic olive grove of ancient olive trees that makes extra virgin olive oil. They’ll also recycle your corks – if you bring in a full bag of used corks you get $25 off a $50 purchase.
Their program One Bottle, One Tree funds a tree-planting for every bottle of Trinity Oaks wine sold. They’ve already planted over 7 million trees. They also have new plant-based capsules – the first made using renewable technology, plus it’s certified compostable and the aluminum top disk on the bottle is recyclable too.
They’re the the first LEED Gold Certified winery in theUS, and 20% of the property is a nature preserve that draws in good animals. Their bird habitat has 200 nesting boxes made from the property’s reclaimed wood. So rather than using pesticides, this attracts owls which are predators for voles, moles and gophers which are vineyard villains, and also attracts endangered blue birds that control a new invasive stinkbug.
All of their Walla Walla Valley vineyards are Salmon Safe, which protect salmon by planting trees, growing cover crops, improving irrigation, and using natural methods to control weeds and farm pests.
the lodi appellation
Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing has farming practice standards in Business Management, Human Resources, Ecosystem Management, Soil Management, Water Management, and Pest Management. About 20,000 acres and 20 wineries were Certified Green in the Lodi last year.
72% of California’s wine grape acreage and 74% of its wine production are in the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance program. April is a month-long campaign called California Wines: Down to Earth Month. workshops, eco-tours and rides through vineyards, special offers and wine tastings to help educate people about California wine’s sustainable practices and encourage them to do similar stuff in their own lives. (full list of events at http://www.discovercaliforniawines.com/d2e.
Anyway, here’s a short fun quiz to test a little of your green wine knowledge! A lot of time, effort, and money are spent by a ton more wineries to do good things for the earth so we can keep drinking awesome wine. But like Kermit said, it’s not easy being green.