Friday, April 10, 2015

Our Visitors' Guide to Santa Cruz Mountains' Organic Wine Trail (April 18)

Four wineries in the Santa Cruz Mountains have teamed up to help visitors celebrate Earth Day by touring the Organic Wine Trail with special events offered on April 18.

While it's wonderful to bring attention to this undervisited region, it's also important to note how many of the wines at each destination are actually grown organically (a small minority in most cases). Be sure to pay special attention to these wines from these participating wineries (that are open to the public):

*** = 50-100% of production

• Cooper Garrod Vineyards (3,000 cases out of 3,000 total)

Cooper Garrod's current releases are from its organic vines. (It has older library wines that are not).

** = 10-50% of production

• Ridge Vineyards (10,000 cases out of 80,000 total; an additional 15,000 cases, including its flagship Monte Bello and Lytton Springs Zinfandel, are made predominantly [80-90%] from organic grape during the transition to full certification).

Ridge is now the biggest organic vineyard owner in both the Santa Cruz Mountains and Sonoma County with 277 acres (all of its estate vines) certified organic (or in the three year transition period to organic certification).

Ridge also sources from historic vineyard properties that it does not own.

Note: Although grape buyers can appeal to vineyard owners to certify their vineyards as organic, ultimately certification is the owner's decision. With historic vineyards, the leverage a winery has over getting grapes certified is harder to come by. (Turley is in the same boat - all of its estate vineyards are certified but historic vineyards it buys from may be farmed organically but not certified).

* = less than 10% of production

All of the one star wineries have small estate vineyards or buy grapes from a certified grower. They all buy the bulk of their grapes from nonorganic sources.

• Alfaro Family Vineyards (332 cases out of 10,000 total)
• Silver Mountain Vineyards (250-650 cases out of 3-5,000 total)

A Guide to the Wines


*** Cooper Garrod
Organic estate acres: 28
Bottle labeling: "Made with Organic Grapes"
  • Cabernet Franc ($29)
  • Cabernet Sauvignon-Lone Oak Vineyard ($32)
  • Chardonnay-Gravel Ridge Vineyard ($29)
  • Syrah-Finely Vineyard ($29)
  • Viognier ($29)


** Ridge Vineyards

Organic estate acres: 277
Bottle labeling: "Ingredients: Organic Grapes" (East Bench only)
  • Zinfandel-East Bench ($28)
  • Zinfandel-Geyserville ($38)
In addition, the current releases of Ridge's Monte Bello Cabernet and the Lytton Springs Zindandel are both 80-90% organic.


* Alfaro Family Vineyards
Organic estate acres: 8
Bottle labeling: no certification on label
  • Chardonnay-Mary Katherine Vineyard ($29)
  • Gruner Veltliner-La Playita Vineyard ($25)
  • Pinot Noir-Mary Katherine Vineyard ($35)
* Silver Mountain Vineyards
Organic estate acres: 10
Bottle labeling: Made with Organic Grapes
  • Chardonnay-Estate ($38)
  • Pinot Noir-Estate ($38)
  • Pinot Noir-Miller Hill ($38)

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