Vintner Michael Honig of Honig Vineyard and Winery in the Napa Valley likes to start winery tours at his dumpster, showing off how little the operation actually throws away by finding ways to repurpose or recycle what his grandfather might once upon a time have thought of as trash.
At Navarro Vineyards & Winery in Mendocino's Anderson Valley, managers got rid of Styrofoam wine shippers and use flocks of Babydoll sheep in the vineyards to simultaneously fertilize and keep the weeds down.
Bonterra Organic Vineyards in Ukiah is a Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing operation, having harvested and vinified its first certified organic grapes in 1990; it remains the best-selling wine made from organic grapes in the country.
Andat J Vineyards and Winery in Healdsburg, owner Judy Jordan works with viticulturalist John Erbe to monitor mildew pressure in the vineyards without the aggressive use of fungicides.
“Our focus on sustainable practices ranges from minimal chemical use in our nine estate vineyards to forward-thinking water conservation programs to our executive chef sourcing only local ingredients for our culinary programs,” said Jordan. “We continue to improve ourselves, sometimes in small ways and sometimes in big projects.”
Trinchero Family Estates in St. Helena, the company behind the big wine brand Sutter Home, went so far as to develop a thinner wine bottle, saving millions of pounds of glass every year. Delicato Family Vineyards, with land in the Napa Valley, Monterey and Manteca, are masters of drip irrigation, composting and the use of patrolling hawks to keep grape-eating birds away.
These are just some of the 15 vintners and growers profiled in “Down to Earth,” a new book produced by the Wine Institute, a public-policy advocacy organization that represents California wineries in the U.S. and around the world, to highlight programs of the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance.