Before we get started on why you should choose a sustainable wine, let’s talk about what it means to be sustainably farmed. Sustainable producers go further than simply looking at products applied in the vineyard, they take into account the entire vineyard ecosystem. A Certified Sustainable Winery embraces environmental sustainability, economic feasibility, and social equality. Meaning, we are not only considerate about how we farm our vineyard, but value our employees, neighbors, and community as a whole. Sustainable farmers are focused on reduction of waste, limiting chemical additives and improving soil health.
There are many different certifications for sustainability throughout California and the US, but all of them share a common goal – preservation for future generations. At Wente Vineyards, we are certified by California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance.
Warning: this article is a little technical and 'wine geeky' but we feel it's important to share and educate on why choosing a sustainably farmed wine matters. Here are five reasons you should care:
- Certified Sustainable vineyards are focused on precision farming based on vine and soil requirements
Sustainability means that we do not take a blanket approach to farming. We leverage technology and samples of soil and vine tissue to discover the root cause and total need for farming tools, such as fertilizer. Our samples and technology will tell us the precise dose of fertilizer that is needed to support a healthy vine. This is helpful for our vines, but also the environment, as over-fertilization can result in soil health decline and releases unneeded nitrogen into the air. We are proud to use fertilizer in a very limited way.
2. Conservation of resources
Certified sustainable vineyards take water conservation seriously. Water is one of the most precious resources in the world and we don’t want to take it for granted. We use multiple forms of technology from sap flow software to evapotranspiration data to asses our irrigation efficiency. We're getting a little 'geeky' we know-- but it's so critical to managing water as efficiently as possible! Our goal is to irrigate our vineyards when then need it, and no more than that.
3. Certified sustainable vineyards strive to increase soil carbon levels
Carbon is a natural element found all around us, including in our soils. Carbon is great for soil and vine root system health. As farmers, we like to keep as much carbon in the ground as possible. Running a “no till” system does just that. In a “no till” system we do not turn over the soil between vineyard rows and disturb the soil structure. Instead, we allow native cover crops and grasses to grow between each row to stimulate natural nitrogen and carbon production in the soil. We also produce and apply our own compost to help build the organic matter within the soils.
4. Community involvement
Sustainable winegrowers work to be stewards of both natural and human resources by preserving open space, providing scenic landscapes, and contributing to their communities economically and culturally. Sustainability encompasses fostering a supportive environment for employees and neighbors. As a 137- year-old business, this is incredibly important to us. Our community is our home and one of our highest priorities.
5. Continuous improvement
Finally, we are challenged by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance to improve our performance every year. As a winery committed to the principles of sustainability we strive to be on the cutting edge of innovation and technology that allows us reduce inputs, lower waste, and increase efficiency. We are constantly testing new methods, technology, and equipment to help us do more with less.
*Photography credited to the fantastic Barry Zupan!