Here's a list of some of the people and wineries making a difference by keeping harmful pesticides out of our ecosystems and making fine wines.
Organic viticulture is not without pressures - making sure those grapes are grown well, meeting multiple winemakers' requirements, and yet getting the most from the harvest. Delivering satisfying result is these guys' job. It's a high wire act that depends on a lot of experience and judgment calls as well as client relationships.
And it's often a pivotal relationship in helping vintners convert to organic - knowing that the vineyard manager can get the job done. They are the unsung heroes of wine country.
Here's to four of the many vineyard managers in Northern California who do this year after year:
• Mark Neal, Jack Neal & Sons - 1,000+ acres in Napa
• Phil Coturri, Enterprise Vineyards - 1,051 acres in Napa and Sonoma
• Amigo Bob - founder of CCOF and EcoFarm, and organic viticulturist par excellence in Napa and other regions
• David Koball, Vineyard Director, Fetzer Bonterra - 915 acres in Mendocino
TEACHERS AND TRAINERS
A shout out to the following for teaching and supporting organic growers with know-how:
• Ann Thrupp, Manager of Sustainability and Organic Development, Fetzer/Bonterra
• Glenn McGourty, Viticulture and Plant Science Advisor, UC Cooperative Extension (part of Davis), Ukiah (author of the first UC Davis textbook on organic viticulture)
[I am sure there are many more people who should be on both of the above lists and in future years, I hope to add them.]
• Bonterra Vineyards - 1,420 acres of certified vineyards
The only organically grown wine you can reliably find in supermarkets, this Mendocino giant sources grapes from its own 915 acres of vineyards and more from growers in Mendocino and Lake counties who own their own combined 505 acres.
|Ann Thrupp oversees organic |
development at Bonterra, bringing
growers into Bonterra's organic program;
Dave Koball directs vineyard management
and oversee the estate's acreage
• Napa Wine Co. - 635 acres of certified vineyards
A giant grower in Yountville and Oakville, the historic family holding has the biggest chunk of organic acres in Napa. They sell their fruit to others and run a custom crush facility for many boutique wineries in the valley. They also make their own wines under the Ghost Block, Napa Wine Co. and Elizabeth Rose labels.
|Andy Hoxsey of Napa Wine Co., a leader in|
sustainability and organic practices
This Mendocino winery, located in Redwood Valley near Ukiah, owns 220 acres and buys grapes from grower farming 330 more acres. Their no added sulfite wines are widely distributed and a staple at Whole Foods.
4. Domaine Carneros - 316 acres of organic vineyards
This French-owned sparkling wine producer is the largest organic grower in Napa's coastal Carneros region, where it also makes Pinot Noir and treasured for its terrace tastings and vistas.
5. HALL Wine - 283 acres of organic vineyards
HALL Wine has 200 acres of organic vineyards in Napa and 83 more in Sonoma. They were also the first GOLD LEED certified winery in the state.
6. Inglenook - 253 acres of organic vineyards
This classic, historic winery, founded in 1879, has gone back to its roots - i.e. historically, pre WW2, all wine was farmed organically. (While Inglenook's accomplishments are significant, it's sad that Coppola is not making his other brands - in Geyserville -organic.)
7. Heitz Cellars - 252 acres of organic vineyards
I have to say this one was a complete surprise to me. But now I know. Heitz's had 139 acres certified in 2005 and has now added its Ink Grade (with 99 acres) and Heitz Winery (15 acres) to its certified acreage.
8. Barra of Mendocino - 220 acres of organic vineyards
This Italian-owned family winery grows many of the grapes that go into other wines. It makes it own wines under its two value-priced family labels - Barra of Mendocino and Girasole, the latter being its unoaked line, both of which can be found at times at Whole Foods.
9. Nevada County Wine Guild - 220 acres of organic vineyards
This Sierras-based winery makes Our Daily Red (a Trader Joe's staple) and two other labels - Orleans Hill and Well Red. All grapes are purchased from organic growers. The winery was recently bought by The Wine Exchange of Novato.
10. Grgich Hills - 360 acres of biodynamicaly certified vineyards
The largest Demeter certified biodynamic grower in Napa, this classic Chardonnay and Zinfandel powerhouse, is one of Napa's most prestigious and historic wineries. Croatian-born winemaker Mike Grgich was one of the two American winermakers to win in the blind tasting with French critics in 1976. His nephew, Ivo Jeramaz, also from Croatia, has been instrumental in the winery embracing biodynamic viticulture.
10. (TIE) McFadden Vineyards - 200 acres of certified vineyards
An organic grower for 40 years, Guinness McFadden's heavenly Potter Valley location is perfect for growing grapes that need cooler temperatures than those found in Napa or the Hopland-Ukiah corridor.
A SHOUT OUT TO MORE
The following are listed by county and include mostly CCOF certified wineries.
There are also other counties with organic acreage, but this was not an encyclopedic study - just a brief survey of four counties - Mendo, Napa, Sonoma and Lake.
[I apologize to those who used other certifiers - acreages are not listed online by Stellar/Demeter and others so I was unable to list them here. I also didn't list holdings under 5 acres.]
NAPA - CCOF
Overall there's good news in terms of organic viticulture's growth in the North Bay: Napa County's organic vineyards increased from 3,536 acres in 2011 to 4,032 in 2012. That means that 9% of Napa's vineyards are certified organic.
KUDOs to the growers and vintners behind that statistic.
• Robert Sinskey - 175 acres (biodynamically certified through 2012; now organically certified through CCOF)
• Madonna Estate - 159 acres
• Frogs Leap - 155 acres (also dry farmed)
• De Coninck - 148
• Turley - 149
• Flora Springs (Komes) - 119
• Chappellet - 96
• Long Meadow Ranch -75
• The Napa Valley Reserve (at Meadowood) - 64
• Jackson Family Wines - 59
• Dana - 58
• Volker Eisele - 57
• Burgess - 50
• Storybook - 43
• Spottswoode - 42
• Staglin - 42
• Ehlers - 39
• Araujo Estate - 38 acres (biodynamic certification)
• Truchard - 35
• ZD Wines - 31
• Usibelli Ranch & Game - 31
• Rocca Family - 29
• V. Sattui - 29
• Harris Ranch - 28
• Navone - 27
• Gamble Family - 25
• Lantz/Sam Brannan - 23
• Peju - 22
• Adastra - 20
• Ovid - 18
• Neal Family - 15
• Hawk and Horse - 15
• Neyers - 12
• Tres Sabores - 12
• State Line Vineyards - 12
• Anomaly - 8
• Juliana Vineyard - 8
• Johnston/Helena View - 6
• Rudd Wines (Edge Hill) - 5
• Wilde Wolf - 5
SONOMA - CCOF
Sonoma's total organic vineyard acreage in 2012 was 1,163 acres, compared to 678 in 2011, according to the Sonoma County Crop Report. That's an increase of 58 percent.
However, the percentage of organic vineyards as a part of overall vineyard acreage (roughly 58,300 acres) is low: just 2 percent of the total.
• Benziger - 98
• DeLoach - 91
• Hambrecht - 74
• Marimar - 60
• Medlock Ames - 55
• Topolos - 50
• Palo Alto Vineyard Management - 38
• Amapola - 36
• Ravenswood - 14
• Lisa's Vineyard - 12
• Stone Edge -10
• Feingold Vineyards - 9
• Cohn - 8
• Forenzo Vineyards - 7
• Barham-Mendelsohn 5
• Wild Hog 5
MENDOCINO - CCOF
Statistics for Mendocino's 2012 crop report will be available soon. I hope to add them later today.
In 2011 the county had 3,994 acres of organic vineyards, which constituted about 25% of total vineyard acreage.
• Cox Vineyards - 292
• Barra/Girasole/Redwood Valley Vineyards - 220
• McFadden - 200
• Haiku -165
• Thornhill Vineyards -139
• Ricetti -114
• Neese Vineyards -107
• Parducci/Mendocino Wine Co. - 93
• The Poor Ranch - 82
• Patianna Organic Vineyards - 74
• Milani Vineyards - 68
• Welch Vineyard Management - 65
• Saracina - 55
• Beckstoffer - 50
• Elkfield Vineyards - 48
• Davis Drive Organics - 46
• Chase Vineyards - 45
• Rosewood Vineyards - 41
• Tomki Vineyards/Oster Wine - 41
• Vecino Vineyards - 40
• Hillside Vineyards - 40
• Vau Investments - 35
• Yorkville Vineyards - 33
• Handley Cellars - 29
• Rack & Riddle - 29
• Lorenzi Vineyards - 28
• Grider Home Ranch - 27
• Light Vineyards - 23
• JCP Farming - 22
• Graziano Vineyards - 21
• Ulysses Lolonis Vineyards - 21
• Upton Vineyards -18
• Nelson Family Vineyards -17
• Testa-Grieve Vineyards - 17
• Donald Lucchesi Ranch - 16
• Gibson Ranch - 16
• Tournour Vineyards - 15
• Johnson Orchards & Vineyards - 14
• Caballo Blanco - 13
• Inland Ranch - 12
• Wolford Vineyard - 10
• Trimble Vineyards - 10
• Gusto Vineyards - 10
• Hartje Vineyards - 10
• Thompson Vineyards - 10
• Cold Creek Ranch - 9
• Embros Wine Co. - 9
• Harrison Vineyards - 8
• Damiano - 6
• Hoover Vineyards - 6
• Goforth - 6
• Miralago Vineyard - 5
• Naughty Boy - 5
LAKE - CCOF
• Bartolucci -166
• DeVoto Vineyards - 116
• Beaver Creek - 39
• Nova Vineyards - 36
• Elk Mountain Vineyards - 25
• Cat's Paw Vineyards - 7
• Wild Hare Vineyard - 6