Sustainable wine refers to the farming and winemaking practices that winegrowers follow. It includes composting waste to make fertilizer, conserving water and reducing energy consumption and pesticide use.
To be certified sustainable, winegrowers must submit to an independent third party to see if they meet certain eco-friendly standards. Often, these rules vary by region.
1. Red Tail Ridge
Winemakers are increasingly incorporating sustainable and organic practices into their vineyards and cellars, recognizing that these methods not only preserve the quality of their wines but also help protect the environment. It is a commitment that they want to ensure for future generations, and one that they hope will inspire others to follow their example.
For Red Tail Ridge, this means preserving water and natural terroir to create limited production wines that are truly unique in New York. The 52 acre vineyard and winery are located on the western shore of Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes region.
The vineyards are all farmed in a biodynamic, organic manner. This method focuses on lunar cycles and a calendar that helps winemakers plan their viticultural tasks according to when it’s most beneficial for the vines.
They also practice dry farming in order to reduce their dependence on irrigation. This allows the grapes to adapt to changes in weather conditions naturally and yield high quality fruit.
Their vineyards and winery are also LEED Gold certified. The building was designed with green features including large windows to allow natural light into the building, geothermal heating and cooling, low-flow plumbing and waste water harvesting.
As a result, the building’s energy usage is 40% lower than the baseline equivalent. It is the first of its kind to achieve this level in New York State, a true testament to their sustainability practices.
Good Karma is a ripe, fruit-driven Riesling made from Red Tail Ridge Estate vineyards. Fresh aromatics of wild strawberry and plum explode on the nose. A touch of dark chocolate/cocoa powder, graphite and a hint of mint give way to juicy flavors of raspberry, cherry tart and cranberry. The ripe palate is rounded out with a crisp and tangy acidity that elongates the finish.
2. Silver Oak Cellars
Founded in 1972, Silver Oak Cellars is one of the most recognizable wine brands in the world. Its Cabernet Sauvignon has achieved cult status and is available at many high-end restaurants across the country.
The winery has been at the forefront of sustainability in the wine industry since its inception, and their Alexander Valley winery is the first commercial winery in the world to be LEED Platinum Certified for Building and Construction. The onsite tasting room and production facility uses 2,595 solar panels, LED lighting, and reclaimed redwood to maximize energy efficiency.
In addition to their winery, they have two vineyards in Napa Valley and Alexander Valley that produce a range of top quality wines. These vineyards are complemented by fruit from independent growers throughout both appellations, giving the winemaking team flexibility to realize the full potential of each vintage.
Their unique approach to Cabernet Sauvignon has been a hallmark of their success and helped them achieve the cult-like status that they have today. They have followed a singular mission since their inception: to make the best Cabernet possible.
For example, they made a daring decision to only age their juice in American oak instead of French, for its finer grain and subtle tannin influence on the wine. They also picked their grapes later to impart their Cabernet with a lushness not typically found in Napa Valley at the time.
These choices have helped Silver Oak become a legendary brand in the Napa Valley and beyond. Their cult following has included athletes and celebrities such as Peyton Manning, LeBron James, and Oprah Winfrey.
Besides their sustainability practices, Silver Oak has also built an iconic winery in the heart of Alexander Valley, which has received numerous awards and accolades for its design and construction. It’s been featured in publications such as the New York Times and is a finalist for a National Historic Landmark designation by the United States Congress.
3. Sparkling Pointe
Sparkling Pointe Winery is an exclusive wine producer of Methode Champenoise sparkling wines, handcrafted by renowned Champagne Master Winemaker Gilles Martin. Their premise is to produce quality sparkling wine without using any artificial chemicals.
Their vineyards consists of 40 acres of sustainably grown Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes. The grapes are carefully nurtured and harvested with a gentle whole cluster approach that produces exceptional, high-quality fruit.
The winery itself is a state of the art facility and boasts an elegant tasting room where visitors can observe every step of the winemaking process from vineyard to bottle. The facility is LEED certified and utilizes a net-zero warehouse space that runs entirely on geothermal and solar energy.
They also use a ‘Sustainable Harvest Plan’, based on the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) model, that includes a comprehensive range of soil and water conservation techniques to improve the health and longevity of their vines. This ensures that the grapes are not exposed to excessive amounts of pesticides and fertilizers, which are often harmful to the environment and the vineyard workers.
Another sustainability initiative is their commitment to a sustainable business model that includes fair working conditions and social programs within the local community. They have been certified as a Fairtrade partner, which means that they work closely with the growers and pay them a fair price.
As far as packaging is concerned, they make an effort to reduce waste by replacing bottles with glass jars that can be easily recycled. This helps reduce the number of bottles needed for each sale and decreases the amount of waste in production, transportation, and disposal.
They also use watertight enclosures that are IP69K rated for high-pressure, high-temperature washdowns. This helps them maintain sanitary conditions in their processing area while also keeping their equipment and machinery safe and functioning.
4. Long Meadow Ranch
Long Meadow Ranch is a family-owned agricultural enterprise producing grapes and wine, olives and olive oil, grass-fed beef and lamb, fruits, vegetables and eggs in the Napa Valley. Its operations include the 650-acre LMR Mayacamas Estate home ranch located in the Mayacamas Mountains above Rutherford and the 90-acre LMR Rutherford Estate, as well as a general store, vineyards, an outdoor cafe, a farmer’s market, and the acclaimed Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch restaurant in St. Helena, California.
At Long Meadow Ranch, sustainability is a core value. Their approach is called “Full Circle Farming.” This means that everything they produce is sourced from their own land, relying on organic and sustainable practices to ensure that their products are as healthy as possible.
The property is also home to 11 acres of olive groves for Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, over 500 varietals of organic heirloom fruits and vegetables, egg-laying poultry, grass-fed cattle, and honeybees that are hard at work pollinating the fruit trees, vegetable gardens and vineyards.
Their Napa Valley wines are crafted from their Rutherford and Mayacamas estates, as well as from their Anderson Valley Estate with over 70 acres of planted vines in the cool, coastal deep end of Napa Valley. These wines are a reflection of the unique climate and terroir that each estate provides.
The winery has a modern tasting room and features several different wines from the Long Meadow Ranch portfolio. Their Sauvignon Blanc is an especially interesting wine that has a lot of complexity, including aromas of citrus blossom, bergamot and mint on the nose, along with white nectarine and guava on the palate. It is a wonderfully refreshing, crisp and clean wine that is sure to please.
Since the company’s inception in 1987, Bonterra has paved the way for regenerative organic wine farming and responsible business practices. Its regenerative practices include sheep grazing, cover cropping, compost application and more.
Their viticulture is also Biodynamically focused, which means that no chemicals are used in the vineyards. This makes Bonterra one of the most sustainable wine companies in the world.
The vineyards are irrigated by rain and snowmelt, and there’s plenty of biodiversity on the property. They have more than 30 full-time employees that help with the harvest and care for the vineyards. They’ve also implemented solar power, water conservation, and energy saving devices in the winery to help them stay environmentally conscious.
They’ve been certified by several organizations, including California Sustainable Winegrowing, B Corporation, Demeter and CCOF Organic. They’ve also been working toward becoming Climate Neutral certified.
While it may seem like a lot to do, Bonterra is doing it because they feel it’s the right thing to do. They believe that if we continue to make changes in our environment and focus on protecting it, then we will have a better future.
The 2020 California Green Medal winner in the Environment category, Bonterra has long been devoted to regenerative agriculture, farming organically since 1987. Its regenerative practices include beneficial farming methods like cover cropping, reduced tillage, compost application, animal grazing, integrated pest management and wildlife integration.
Located in the hills of Mendocino County, Bonterra has nearly 1000 acres of vineyards. The vineyards are surrounded by a natural habitat that includes sheep, which graze in the fields to provide fertilizer and soil tilling. They are also a great source of weed control and help the vines to grow stronger and healthier.