Climate Action &
Each of the other five pillars all contribute to climate action. Energy and water efficiency is critical in the vineyard and winery, and reduces operational carbon footprint. Similarly with recycling, composting and green purchasing. Reducing pesticide and fertilizer use also means reduced manufacturing, shipments, and costs, not to mention that nitrous oxide (which results from nitrogen fertilization) is 200x more potent that CO2 emissions. In terms of social equity there are considerations like employee commute and public transportation, as well as many examples where employees who work for leading businesses committed to sustainability will take these practices home with them, broadening the impact.
Then there are next steps in climate action, like renewable energy (first ensuring you don’t “solarize your inefficiencies”) and Electric Vehicle (EV) charging. As well as hot topics like LIGHTEN UP! – reducing bottle and packaging weight.
Next, you may ask, what is this “Regenerative” buzzword? These are win-win practices like cover crops, compost, reduced tillage, reduced fertilizer and pesticide use, planting hedgerows, preserving and restoring riparian and forest habitat, which increase soil health, water and nutrient retention, biodiversity, and vineyard resilience to drought and increasing high heat days. At the same time these practices store more carbon in the soil – called carbon sequestration. It is exciting that growers have an active and meaningful role that they can play in drawing down carbon emissions and being a part of the climate change solution!
Here are some other examples of how sustainable vineyards and wineries are taking climate action:
Natural cork is the most sustainable wine closure. Did you know that cork is made from the bark of cork oak trees? The bark cannot be harvested until the oak tree is 25 years old, and is then harvested every nine years, using ancient harvesting techniques. The bark harvest actually prolongs the life of the trees, which can live from 100 to 300 years.
When discussing reduced herbicide use or organic farming, a common argument made is that more tractor passes are required, which increases emissions and the carbon footprint of vineyard operations. However, that no longer has to be the case as electric tractors are entering the market that are competitive with, or even outcompete, conventional tractors.
Electric vehicles (EV) are growing in popularity, making a winery’s decision to install EV charging stations not only a sound environmental investment but an opportunity to attract eco-conscious consumers. Wineries with EV charging stations are hearing the same story: A guest was in need of a charge, found that the nearest station was at a winery and decided to stop in for a taste while plugged in.
Biochar is a form of charcoal that is being tested as a soil amendment in several vineyards throughout Napa County as growers look to improve soil health, increase carbon capture and reduce nutrient inputs. Among those exploring the use of biochar are Cakebread Cellars, Spring Mountain Vineyard and the Napa Resource Conservation District (RCD), which manages an experimental vineyard in Carneros.
April is a time of growth – when plants move from dormancy to bloom and the Napa Valley’s landscapes are lush and green, with the rivers and streams full from early spring rains. During April, we also celebrate Down to Earth month, making it a great time to think about soil health and how to manage property using “Carbon Farming.
Chateau Montelena Winery is a stone building nearly 130 years old. But that doesn’t stop winemaker Matt Crafton and members of their leadership team from implementing cutting edge technologies that save energy, water and money while maintaining the integrity of this historic building.