California leads that charge when it comes to sustainable wine growing. But what does that mean?  

In California, sustainable agriculture and community development are at the helm of its society-at-large. Did you know that 80% of California wines are made in a certified sustainable winery? That is no small feat as the requirements are incredibly strict and wineries have to re-qualify every year. Now that’s what I call commitment to the planet!

Why do California wineries adopt sustainable winegrowing practices? Well, it starts with their belief system. The California wine industry believes it truly needs to protect the soil, air and water for future generations. They believe that a holistic approach is a requirement to keep both the earth and the people on it safe and secure for many years to come.  

How will I know if my wine is Sustainable? This strong commitment to nature and the community breathes life and flavour into California wines like no other region. In fact, on many of your favourite California wines, you’ll start to see the “Certified Sustainable” logo. Ensuring you can feel good about every bottle you open, sip and share.

Looking to learn more? Let’s dive into understanding what sustainability is below. 

What does it mean to be sustainable? 

California Wineries value creating a standard that ensures high-quality grapes and premium wines, but sustainability goes well beyond environmental issues like water and energy and biodiversity. They prioritize sustainable agricultural practices, such as drip tape irrigation, to optimize water usage and minimize waste. This method allows for precise water delivery to the vines, resulting in efficient resource utilization and healthier grapevines. Their vision of sustainability is about the vineyards and the vines, yes, but it is also about the needs and interests of the entire society-at-large. It is about the economic and social well-being of farm and winery employees. It is also about supporting local businesses and local communities through job creation, building community and philanthropy. 

It’s also about having a belief system that stands firm in understanding and committing to regenerative agriculture and protecting the environment. Regenerative agriculture is a conservation and rehabilitation approach to food and farming systems that allow them to naturally regenerate to a healthy state year after year. California’s vintners believe in being a good neighbour and employer all while maintaining and keeping up a thriving long-term business that can be handed down for generations to come. These initiatives require an extreme amount of planning, commitment and respect. 

What does it mean for wine when it’s “sustainably farmed?”

Sustainable farming includes farming in a regenerative way. This allows the vines and surrounding area to be taken care of for future generations, by giving back to the land more than what is taken from it.  Sustainable winegrowing can also include biodynamic or organic farming practices. 

How do you farm sustainably?

Winemakers and viticulturalists work in the vineyard, the cellar and the winery with sustainable practices always in mind. 

Some examples of sustainable practices in the vineyard include:

  • Sheep, hawks and owls are used to naturally control weeds and pests
  • Beneficial insects act as natural predators around the vineyards 
  • Preservation of local ecosystems and wildlife habitats
  • Soil health is protected through the use of cover crops like mustard and legumes 
  • Energy efficiency by night-harvesting
  • Drip irrigation, dry farming, process ponds are used to conserve and save water 
  • Composting grape pomace (skins and seeds) to minimize waste

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How does sustainability care and grow the community?

Sustainability in the community is as important as winegrowing. This includes employee education and safety, leadership and equipment training.  California Wineries care for the people that work at the winery and help to make these great wines by paying fair wages, providing child care, educational assistance and other fundamental services.  Not to mention many wineries include their staff in philanthropic and charity events to help to give back to the community. It is estimated that at least $101.5 million is raised annually by California’s wine and grape industry for philanthropy. Isn’t that amazing!

Sustainability is truly about the needs and interests of society-at-large and also the winery and winemaking. Wineries balance the fine art of the economic and social well-being of farm and winery employees, supporting local businesses and local communities through job creation and making great wine, and they also leave the planet better than they found it.

Now that is something we can all support. Feel good about what is in the bottle and toast to California.  This month, grab a glass and shift into “The Golden State of Mind”.  Embrace what’s next in life, be optimistic, and get excited for new possibilities – including the future of sustainability and a healthier planet for all.

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  1. Longshot Pinot Grigio 2019 $16.00
  2. Kendall-Jackson Vintners’ Reserve Chardonnay 2019 $21.95
  3. Bonterra Chardonnay 2019 $19.95
  4. Robert Mondavi Private Selection Chardonnay 2018 $17.75
  5. 7 Deadly Zins Old Vine Zinfandel 2017 $24.95
  6. Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 $22.95
  7. Bread & Butter Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 $18.95
  8. Josh Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 $19.95

Published by HOLR Magazine.