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Wine Not Care about the Environment

Today, many oenophiles care not only how the wine in the glass tastes, but also if it was crafted using sustainable farming practices. Throughout California winemakers are factoring in the changing climate and incorporating more biodynamic and organic viticulture practices.

Alpen Cellars
Even with sustainable farming practices, it’s hard for modern winemakers to keep a low carbon footprint with all the power needed for equipment. However the 300-acre family-run Alpen Cellars in the Trinity Lakes AVA has been off the grid since it began in 1984. Run entirely on renewable energy sources, the winery is known for Austrian varietals like Blaufrankisch, Riesling, Gewürztraminer as well as Chardonnay, Merlot and Pinot Noir.

Frey Wine
Today most Mendocino County winemakers use organic grapes, but Frey Wine was ahead of its time as the country’s first organic winery over 30 years ago. Frey was also the first to make biodynamic wines in the area.

Shannon Family of Wines
Located in Lake County, Shannon Family of Wines is one of the largest certified organic vineyards in the country. This summer the winery earned the California Green Medal Environment Award, given to the vineyard or winery that best demonstrates Environmental Stewardship through maximized environmental benefits from implementing sustainable practices.

Wise Villa Winery
Wise Villa Winery in Placer County was one of the first wineries to implement a BioFiltro worm-powered wastewater system that purifies wastewater from the winemaking process allowing it to be used in drip irrigation systems. The winery also takes a natural approach to weed, animal and insect control in the vineyard.

Sonoma County
As one of the most famous winemaking regions in California, Sonoma County has taken a leadership position in sustainability, with 99% of vineyards certified sustainable. Silver Oaks Cellars in Sonoma was the first commercial winery to achieve the prestigious LEED Platinum certification, and Anaba Wines was the first Northern California winery to convert to wind power. Many area wineries preserve acreage for wildlife including Jordan Winery & Estate, which became the largest winery pollinator sanctuary in 2021, Medlock Ames Winery, which is a wildlife passageway to the Pepperwood Reserve and Lasseter Family Winery, which has developed a natural eco-system on-site.

Casto Oaks
Located in the Sierra Nevada foothills just a stone’s throw from Yosemite National Park, Casto Oaks winery is using a variety of sustainable farming practices to create intense Zinfandels and Bordeaux varietals. They still maintain the vines by hand and follow the same farming practices each year which is what gives Casto Oaks wine its intense fruit, acidity and rich color.

E&J Gallo Winery
The iconic producer in Fresno, E&J Gallo Winery has had a commitment to environmental stewardship since the 1930s when the founders created the 50/50 Giveback plan. Under this directive, for every acre of vineyard land property, another was set aside for wildlife habitat. In 2016 its Dry Creek Building achieved LEED Gold certification.

Located in the Edna Valley, a wine region blessed by the longest growing season in the state, Chamisal has the distinction of being the first to plant grapes in this fertile area. They were also the first SIP certified winery, a rigorous designation for sustainability in the wine industry.

Scheid Family Wines
With 4,000 acres of sustainably certified vineyards in the Salinas Valley of Monterey County, the environment has been a focus since Scheid Family Wines began in 1972. Since 2017 Scheid's winery and bottling operations have been powered by 100% renewable wind energy generated by a 396-foot wind turbine, supplying enough energy for the winery and 125 homes in the local community.

Ponte Winery
Located in the Inland Empire area, Ponte Winery was the first winery in Temecula Wine Country to achieve the Certified California Sustainable Winegrower (CCSW) designation. Ponte also uses natural pest control methods and employs methods to reduce waste production, lower elecricity and water usage and package with recyclable materials.

Angeleno Wine Co.
While Los Angeles may not be known for wine production, in 2019 Angeleno Wine Co. was the first winery to open in Downtown L.A. Its wines are 100% vegan, naturally processed and hand-filled on site. Its grapes come from nearby family vineyards where organic and sustainable viticulture practices reign supreme.

Ramona Ranch Vineyard and Winery
In 2017, Ramona Ranch Vineyard and Winery was the first in San Diego County to be named a Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA). The winery has a natural approach to pest control, maintaining the natural habitat and relies on solar and wind energy to power its operations.

For those interested in learning more about California's sustainable wineries, April is Down to Earth Month, an ideal time to check out California wines grown and made with sustainable practices. Many of California’s wineries are celebrating throughout April with sustainably-focused virtual events, socially distanced in-person experiences and special offers.