Sustainable Farming

by Melvyn Master

Our Tortoise Creek Chardonnay (read Janie’s Grapevine post about Chardonnay and Asparagus), Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Zinfandel are from a certified sustainably farmed vineyard . But what does that mean?

Sustainable farming is similar to organic farming but includes extra steps in environmental practices. Examples include the use of composting and the cultivation of plants which attract insects that are beneficial to the health of the vines. Sustainable practices in these vineyards also extend to actions that may seemingly have little or nothing to do with the production of grapes, such as providing areas to foster wildlife to prevent other animals from poaching grapes and allowing weeds and wildflowers to grow between the vines. Sustainable farming also respects the vineyard’s carbon footprint and may use bio-diesel for tractors to reduce emissions among the vines, or plough with horses.  Sustainable wine making is a systems perspective of integration of the natural and human resources.

Our Tortoise Creek wines are certified by what is known as The Lodi Rules for Sustainable Wine Growing. This is California’s original sustainable viticulture certification program. The certification process is rigorous, based on science, and third-party audited. Lodi Rules certified growers make up an innovative community with a history and commitment to farming quality wine grapes through the implementation of viticulture practices that balance environmental, social, and economic goals. Lodi Rules was designed to communicate a commitment to sustainable agriculture to wineries and the general public. A vineyard only qualifies for certification if it meets several specific criteria. Certification is awarded to an individual vineyard on an annual basis and the vineyards must pass an annual independent audit to verify the implementation of sustainability practices.

The bottom line is that if you use grapes that are grown sustainably or organically, the fruit will be healthier and healthy grapes will mean better wine AND it is better for the environment.