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
THREE STAR WINERIES
*** 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)
TWO STAR WINERIES
** Ridge Vineyards
Organic estate acres: 277
Bottle labeling: "Ingredients: Organic Grapes" (East Bench only)
- Zinfandel-East Bench ($28)
- Zinfandel-Geyserville ($38)
ONE STAR WINERIES
* 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)
Organic estate acres: 10
Bottle labeling: Made with Organic Grapes
- Chardonnay-Estate ($38)
- Pinot Noir-Estate ($38)
- Pinot Noir-Miller Hill ($38)