For Ken and me, sustainability is a way of life. Thinking long term about the health of our land, and the future of our family, is embedded in all that we do. In fact, this year we became a Certified California Sustainable Winery, and all of our vineyards will be certified by the end of the year.
My belief is that terroir is not simply longitude, latitude and soil type, but also reflects the input of the farmer. For instance, the use of organic mushroom compost has a positive effect on soil microorganisms. In turn, the vine’s ability to process nutrients improves. The way the plant grows then influences the development and, ultimately, the quality of the grapes.
Most of the time, we find that green practices are sound business as well as being good for the environment. An example of this is our solar system installed in 2010. Even though the upfront investment was large, the Federal Renewable Energy Program extended a tax credit that covered nearly one-third of the cost. In addition, the California Solar Initiative will rebate more than 16 percent over the next five years. Accelerated depreciation and the massive decrease in electrical bills will mean complete repayment of our investment by 2016. After that, the savings are ours ― we are now able to sell excess power generated to PG&E, which will support America’s aging national power grid.
We are committed to the use of natural cork. This product is traditionally harvested in a renewable manner, once every seven years. The cork trees are never cut down and the removal of the bark actually improves the trees’ health. The commercial use of cork also encourages the stewardship of cork oak forests, protects large tracts of land from deforestation, sustains family farmers and provides habitat for hundreds of plant and animal species. Recent research indicates cork polyphenols, released into wine as it ages, may play an antioxidant role, preventing cellular aging and inhibiting some types of cancer.
Corks, unlike threaded closures that contain both metal and plastic, are easily recycled. Although plastic corks look solid, they are highly permeable, often accelerating oxidation. Neither of these alternative closures allow for the long-term bottle aging so beneficial to the development of all of our wines. In May 2011, the Sommelier Society of America endorsed natural cork as the preferred closure for wine.