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In the long run, Vineyard managers who take the time and attention necessary for a certified sustainable vineyard display a love of their art reflected in the wines produced. In short, organic wineries are the next and best step in wine making.
These vineyards can be found across the globe, as more and more viticulturists realize the importance of finding balance within the ecosystem. Here is a closer look at a couple of these wineries, and the sustainably farmed grapes they craft into our favorite wines.
Sustainable and green vineyards are crucial, as the environment is having drastic and disastrous effects on the land; California’s wineries are an example.
Honig Vineyard and Winery
Recent Awards: 2016 Decanter World Wine Awards – Bronze
Honig Vineyard and Winery was founded in 1980. Located in Rutherford, California. This award winning winery, produces Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon blanc that pay homage to the earth they are taken from. Every bottle of wine produced by Honig is a shining example of environmental responsibility. Just as a bee tends to nature, so too does this winery. They understand that “Sustainability involves much more than the elimination of pesticides and herbicides in the vineyard.” It is a system of energy management, resulting in a balance with nature. In essence, this is truly one of the most avant garde organic wineries in the USA.
This institute specializes in the training of Golden Retrievers specifically trained to hunt down the vineyard pest.
With an average of 260 days of sunshine in the Napa Valley, the harnessing of solar energy is crucial to balancing a wineries energy needs. Honig has a total of 1,515 solar panels on property. The resulting reduction in carbon dioxide is equivalent to the amount consumed by 70 acres of forest.
As the planet warms, people involved in all aspects of agriculture are realizing the importance of reducing carbon emissions. Utilizing natural energy sources displays a desire to be a caretaker of the land. The very root of the word terroir speaks to the importance of the place grapes are grown. Reflected in wines produced; they display love and care for the planet.
Vine mealybugs are a constant worry for vineyard managers. This little pest lives in the roots and bark of vines, and feeds on the tender parts of the plant. Additionally, it produces honeydew which will cover the trunk, clusters, cordons, and canes if left unchecked. This attracts a black, sooty mold which ruins fruit quality. Vine mealybugs also encourage leafroll virus and are incredibly prolific, spawning anywhere from three to seven generations in a single year.
At Honig, they have teamed up with Bergin University of Santa Rosa. Specifically, this institute specializes in the training of Golden Retrievers specifically trained to hunt down the vineyard pest. Dogs in general have incredible olfactory capabilities, their noses being thousands of times more sensitive than a human’s. In general, by pinpointing infected vines early, pesticide and herbicide use is drastically reduced and fewer vines need to be removed.
Bats and Birds
Where there is sugar, there will always be bugs. At harvest, most grapes will contain between 20% and 25% sugar, which results in A LOT of bugs. Conventional agriculture dictates that a nice dose of pesticides will kill off these insects, saving the coveted fruit. These sprays often come with unwanted side effects, draining into streams, penetrating ground water, and poisoning soil.
Honig has decided that, as responsible partners with the land, they would do all they can reduce the need for these sprays. Surrounding their vineyards you will find bluebird boxes and bat houses, filled with hungry occupants. Not only do these flight bound creatures limit the insect population, but also attract larger birds of prey such as hawks and owls. With the ability to consume 1,000 rodents in a single season, these larger birds work in daily rotation to control vineyard pests. Truly amazing innovation in organic wineries today.
Antonelli San Marco
Wines Produced: Grechetto, Trebbiano Spoletino, Sangiovese, Merlot, Sagrantino, and Montepulciano
Founded in 1979, Antonelli San Marco holds amazing history. The winery is located in Montefalco, in Umbria, Italy. For starters, Montefalco Sagrantino 2012, took home a rating of 99 points at Internationaler Bioweinpreis 2017; an incredibly prestigious award. In 2012, Antonelli San Marco passed the three year conversion certification necessary for a European winery to be considered organic. In short, Their dedication to sustainability is a laudable effort, and the wines crafted here are truly remarkable.
Healthy Soil For Organic Wineries
A healthy vineyard starts with healthy soil. Light, airy soil helps with water management, pest control, and promotes healthy bacterial growth. Ordinarily, conventional farming employs use of heavy tractors. Furthermore, the application of sprays rid the vineyard of common pests. This equipment will compress soil, preventing the growth of desirable bacteria and reducing air and water flow.
Antonelli San Marco uses entirely organic fertilizers made from natural products. These fertilizers add humus to the soil, making it much lighter and enticing for creatures such as earthworms. In turn, processing soil while digested, encouraging healthy bacterial growth. This growth limits food sources for less attractive fungi which can ruin yields and fruit quality.
These benefits quickly begin to compound when looking at the bigger picture. Overall, Less fungicide means fewer trips through the vineyard with horse or tractor, keeping the ground less compacted. Notably, this also means fewer carbon emissions from farming equipment. In short, these steps are crucial to organic wineries.
Winemaking is a very energy intensive process with room for much creativity. Thousands of gallons of wine are pumped from tank to tank as wines are racked, fined, filtered, stored, and racked again. The energy demands of these processes quickly become staggering.
Rather than using generated power, Antonelli San Marco has developed a system which monopolizes the gravitational pull of the earth as wine and must is moved between tanks. Built with multiple levels, with the intention that maceration and fermentation occur at the highest levels of the winery. Holding tanks and barrels rest on the ground floor, readily prepared to receive the wine. This process not only saves energy, but produces higher quality wines as well. The pumping process can bruise grapes, reducing the caliber of the wines produced.
Their wine making style is based around the concept of minimal intervention, allowing the grapes to speak for themselves. They use little to no synthetic additions and reduce their use of sulfur throughout the wine making process. All things considered, resulting wines speak for themselves, reflecting the land on which they grow.
Generally speaking, these organic wineries are pioneers in sustainability. Notably displaying intense devotion and passion for their craft. Their creativity in pest, disease, and energy management are testament that there is a better way for viticulturists to partner with the land; allowing winemakers to create truly remarkable wines. In conclusion, organic wineries and the steps they take to give back to the land are our only option for the future. All things considered, from sniffer dogs to solar powered ingenuity, these wineries are innovating unlike any others.