Sustainable Wine: Practices from Leaders in Mendocino County, California


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Presentation on sustainability and green farming practices at leading wineries in Mendocino County, California.

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Sustainable Wine: Practices from Leaders in Mendocino County, California

  1. 1. Learning from Leading Sustainable Wineries in Mendocino County, California Ann Thrupp Fetzer Vineyards
  2. 2. Sustainable Winegrowing - Refers to practices in Vineyards & Wineries A broad concept, often viewed as a goal Sustainability Economically Viable Socially Responsible Environmentally sound Ensuring viability over time…benefiting current & future generations
  3. 3. What is Organic Farming? - Definition - Organic farming is “an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony.” (National Organic Standards Board, 1998)
  4. 4. Concepts of Sustainable & Organic Agriculture Some people perceive these concepts on a linear continuum… Conventional IPM Biointensive IPM Organic Biodynamic UNSUSTAINABLE SUSTAINABLE ORGANIC & BEYOND However, this linear perspective is somewhat narrow. An alternative view reveals more complexity …
  5. 5. Relationships between Organic & Sustainable & Biodynamic Sustainable Agriculture Organic Biodynamic “Sustainable” winegrowing is a much broader concept, which includes many dimensions (to be explained)
  6. 6. Learning from Pioneers: Sharing Successful Experiences Fetzer Vineyards is recognized Bonterra brand: Made from 100% as a pioneer and leader in organically grown grapes. sustainable & organic practices. Largest organic wine producer in Annual Sales = 4 Million cases US. Sales = 290,000 cases/yr Spreading innovation: We are actively involved in the CA Sustainable Winegrowing Program & other outreach
  7. 7. Biodynamic Wine from the Home ranch of Bonterra Vineyards -“The McNab”
  8. 8. Background on Fetzer and Bonterra Vineyards • Founded by Barney Fetzer & family in 1968 • Home in Hopland, Mendocino County, CA • Bought by Brown Forman Corporation in 1992 • Main brands: Fetzer (Valley Oaks) and Bonterra, created in 1993 • Sustainability is core to business and values
  9. 9. FETZER’S COMMITMENT TO SUSTAINABILITY Environmental Responsibility Social Economic Equity Viability e3 = “The Triple Bottom Line”
  10. 10. Walking the Talk …. • Certified Organic Vineyards - 1,560 acres • Comprehensive Recycling • Energy and water conservation • Renewable energy • Green building • Watershed & biodiversity protection • Worker Safety & Health • Community programs • Greenhouse Gas Inventory And MORE….. Thrupp: Fetzer, 2008
  11. 11. How & why did this start at Fetzer? • Fetzer established an organic garden in 1984 with diverse plants and foods, to pair with wines • Impressive results in food taste & quality and soil recovery; so, started using organic methods in vineyards in 1984-85 • Results good, so expaned of organic practices in vineyards. • Now Fetzer (including Bonterra) is largest grower of certified organic winegrapes in CA
  12. 12. Common Myths about Organic Farming • Organic farming means neglecting the farm • Organic means being old-fashioned & out-dated • Organic results in bad quality and low yields • Using organic practices costs a LOT more • All Organic producers are “hippy radicals” These are generally untrue myths, especially for winegrapes!
  13. 13. Basic Approaches for Growing Winegrapes Organically & Sustainably – • Elimination of synthetic chemicals • Building the health of the soil (cover crops & compost) • Conservation & enhancement of biodiversity • Recycling of resources and nutrients • Conservation of natural resources • Using a systems approach to farming • Protecting health & welfare of employees and communities • Maximizing quality of the product (grapes and wine)
  14. 14. Management of Solid Wastes: “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” – Started effort in 1990, aimed to reduce dump costs Recycling has reduced our waste sent to the landfill by 96% since 1990 – from 1,724 cubic yards to 60 cubic yards
  15. 15. Fetzer Vineyards – Achievement in Saved 3200 cubic yards Solid Waste Reduction from going to landfill, and saved over $220,000 2000 113% 4 1800 3.5 Million Cases Produced cubic yards to landfill 1600 3 1400 1200 2.5 1000 2 800 1.5 600 1 400 200 1724 cy 96% 0.5 0 60 cy 0 1990 1992 2000 2005
  16. 16. Energy Conservation • Installation of many different methods to conserve electricity, natural gas, propane and diesel • The RESULTS: Estimated Over 1 Megawatt of savings in electricity Example: Insulation “Jackets” on white wine tanks – reduces AND mitigation of energy use by approximately climate change 30% in tank room.
  17. 17. Renewable Energy 1. Green Energy - Fetzer was first CA winery to purchase 100% renewable energy - in 1998 2. Solar Power for Administration Building - 1999  40 kW photovoltaic system; 55,000 kWh a year; capacity to provide 75% of building’s energy use 3. Solar Power for bottling facility - 2006  899 kW photovoltaic system: Largest in CA wine industry; potential to provide 80% of energy in bottling facility These energy practices reduce our GHG emissions and impacts on climate change
  18. 18. - 899 kW photovoltaic system (2006) - RV-MMA buys, installs, operates system - Fetzer Vineyards buys electricity generated - Long-term contractual arrangement
  19. 19. Alternative energy and efficiency in transport and vineyard operations • Biodiesel used in some tractors and big-rig trucks – Made from vegetable/soy sources – Reduces dependency on oil – Reduces CO2 emissions and pollution • Carpools for employees • Improved efficiency for truck travel (trucks don’t travel empty) • Electric vehicles for on-site maintenance
  20. 20. Green House Gas Inventory of winery & starting carbon study in vineyards • Brown Forman joined the California Climate Action Registry (CCAR) in late 2006 • Undertook a very comprehensive analysis of GHG emissions in winery operations, (2006-07) • Fetzer is beginning a study with UC Davis to evaluate the carbon stocks (sequestration) from vineyards and surrounding habitat/landscape
  21. 21. Green Building Highlights • 1985, Red Barrel Room – 90,000 sq ft, earth berm around sides eliminates the needs for a cooling system. • 1992, Cellars – wall between fermenting areas, saving over 75,000 kW a year. • 1996, Admin Building – Dirt walls, recycled wood, energy efficient lighting, motion sensors, wool carpet, night air cooling, ecofriendly insulation, and solar panels Thrupp: Fetzer, 2007
  22. 22. New Lighter-weight Bottle Innovation • New Initiative! 2008 - developing lighter-weight bottles for use in Fetzer bottling facility • IMPACT: will reduce fuel use, materials in production, GHG emissions, and overall environmental impact (We are calculating expected impacts.)
  23. 23. Water Conservation • Source - mainly from Russian River – Share w/fish, farmers, families • Pump and treat water onsite – Use ultraviolet filtration in place of chlorine • Drip Irrigation in Vineyards - Irrigation timing is done according to analysis of soil moisture & vine water status • Measure to manage: Continual efforts to conserve water • Winery Wastewater- treated, held & reused on vineyards
  24. 24. Conservation of Habitat and Biodiversity in vineyards and landscape: Examples from Bonterra Vineyards
  25. 25. Conserving biodiverse habitat attracts hundreds of raptors, owls, & beneficial snakes and other wildlife (deer, coyotes, bobcats, etc.) Thrupp: Fetzer, 2007
  26. 26. Additional Animal Biodiversity – McNab ranch biodynamic approach Chickens graze between vines: eat cutworms, beetles and weeds, Sheep used for weed scratch/loosen soil, leave manure management, especially effective in hillsides
  27. 27. Watershed Restoration at Fetzer & Bonterra Vineyards • Watershed conservation & creek restoration projects - Dooley Creek -1994 & 04 - McNab creek - 2004 • Collaboration & funding with government agencies - cost share programs
  28. 28. HUMAN ELEMENTS – “EQUITY” “The soul of the company is found in the hearts of its people” (Paul Dolan) • Rewarding creativity: Encourage employees to pursue new ideas • Employee educational opportunities for advancement • Employee programs: English as a Second Language, car-pools, etc. • Awards for E3 accomplishments • Unique Safety & Health Program • Community & charity programs: scholarships, river cleanup, etc.
  29. 29. Outreach, Opportunity • Fetzer and Bonterra have many awards for outstanding envir- onmental performance & wines • Brown-Forman integrating sustainability in all other brands. • Great interest and involvement in green practices by growers and wineries in Mendo and beyond • Fetzer participates in education & outreach to other growers, wineries, public; collaborates with scientists, educators, regulators, MWWC, etc.
  30. 30. Why Use “Sustainable” Practices? Motivations and Benefits