Sustainability In Dry Creek Valley
What does sustainable mean to us? For the Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley, it means being a passionate advocate for the Dry Creek Valley AVA and ensuring we’re giving back to the environment as much as we’re gleaning from it. It also means we’re assessing and maintaining that delicate balance between environmental impact, viability, and economic growth and taking a leadership position when it comes to sustainability practices.
To that end, WDCV is taking the lead on Sonoma County Winegrowers’ countrywide initiative to become 100% sustainable within the next five years. To achieve this precedent, we recently appointed third-generation winegrower David Mounts of Mounts Family Winery as chair of our new Sustainability Committee. Mr Mounts will help steer a contingent of 150 + growers and 65 wineries here in Dry Creek Valley to implement a three-phase sustainability initiative that will ultimately get all Dry Creek Valley wineries certified “sustainable” through credible third-party verification and certification programs. It’s a monumental task and we’re glad to have such a dynamic steward at the helm of this project.
Thankfully, many of our wineries and growers are already practicing sustainable winegrowing and production. To commemorate this great news, here’s a list of some fantastic wineries already operating at levels of sustainability here in Dry Creek Valley.
2008 was the year that DaVero decided to truly trust Nature, eschewing “modern” viticulture and winemaking techniques and pursuing a path more like they’d been doing for over a decade with their olive oil — and what the great wineries of Europe have been doing for ages.
Today, DaVero strives to keep their vineyards wild, with a diverse undergrowth that harbors beneficial insects and enriches the soil. They harvest more by flavor and less by chemical analysis, then rely on the native yeasts growing in and on the grapes themselves to ferment the juice into wine, rather than inoculating the must with commercial yeasts. They age our wines in old, neutral barrels because they feel oak tannins don’t enhance wine. It’s a decidedly Old-World approach, and it works magnificently. http://www.davero.com/
John Hawley started Hawley Winery and Vineyards in 1996, after 20 years of winemaking at some of California’s most influential wineries. Today, John and his two sons, Paul and Austin Hawley, produce unique wines from their certified organic vineyards and select Sonoma County grapes. They craft nine different wines, although more than half of them are less than 500 cases, producing around 3,000 cases annually in a variety of wines and styles. Making wines in small lots from select vineyards allows them to capture the character of a vineyard and a vintage, and the unique terroir of their vineyards. http://www.hawleywine.com/
The Martorana Family has been growing grapes for over 30 years, and producing our own wines since 2005. They are committed to organic farming practices are Certified Organic grape growers. The unique climate in Dry Creek Valley couples with their commitment to organic farming to yield nutrient rich soil that produces healthy vines and quality fruit that goes into their wines. Gio Martorana, the winemaker, selects the best fruit from each vineyard block and carefully presses the fruit using a method that ensures all of the vibrant fruit flavors live on in expertly crafted wines. Every sip of their wine makes you feel like you are right back in beautiful Dry Creek Valley. http://www.martoranafamilywinery.com/
In their nearly forty years of farming their land, the Prestons have learned the strengths and drawbacks of the different soils, with their varying sun exposure, drainage, and topography. They also follow an assortment of practices that protect the health of the farm and its denizens, ensure the quality and uniqueness of their food products, and provide the basis of a truly sustainable farm system.
At the top of the hill where the soils are thinner and more erosive they now regard native oaks, conifers and passive grazing fields as the best use. In this zone, soil building is a priority to mitigate the debilitating effects of 100 years of grape growing. Benchland soils sloping gently back from the creek and along the county road are favored ground for red grapes. This is where predecessors grew Zinfandel, which today the Prestons have augmented with red Rhone grapes. A transition area between the bench and low-lying sandy soils is shared by vegetables, grains, white Rhone grapes, and livestock, in a nutritionally-sustaining crop rotation. Fruit trees adorn the rich bottom-land together with grassy Sauvignon Blanc, and along the gravelly creek banks olive trees share space with native sedges, willow, cottonwood, and black walnut trees. https://www.prestonvineyards.com/#
They don’t ‘make’ wine at Quivira. They grow wine. It may be a subtle difference in semantics, but it’s a huge difference in philosophy.
Wine is agricultural product – crafted entirely through farming. At Quivira, they believe the full potential of the fruit – and therefore the wine – is present when the grape comes off the vine. The choices that “winegrower” Hugh Chapelle and his team make in the cellar may make an impact on how well they capture that potential, but the full potential of the fruit to make an outstanding wine is either there at harvest time or it isn’t.
At Quivira, they believe their role is to shepherd the wine – the way an archaeologist reveals what’s really there by brushing away the dirt. Rather than an ego-driven approach of ‘here’s our style’ and using clever tricks to manipulate the grapes, they aim to reveal. Once the grapes reach the winery, winemaking processes are very minimal; they generally don’t use commercial yeasts or bacteria and we use very little new oak.
Quivira’s commitment to farming Biodynamically is an integral part of that approach: they believe this is the best way to truly capture the terroir in the glass. Closed-circuit farming does not dilute the voice of the vineyard – everything that comes from the vineyard goes back to the vineyard. When wine lovers taste Quivira’s wines, the vibrancy and purity of our wines is immediately apparent to them – they resonate purely on the palate. Only when this happens do they feel they have been truly successful. http://www.quivirawine.com/
Truett Hurst’s commitment to earth-friendly stewardship is paramount and echoes throughout everything they do. Nestled in the heart of the Dry Creek Valley on 26 very special acres of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah vineyards, a blossoming garden and a vibrant tasting room made of eco-friendly materials are just some of the things that make Truett Hurst unique. Where else can you take in Coho Salmon, Steelhead trout, otters, ducks, sheep, herbs, olives, beneficial insect habitat, heirloom fruits and vegetables, all over a glass of delicious wine?
Truett Hurst sources fruit from the best hillside, old vine vineyards in Dry Creek Valley. The style of wine, be it spicy and bold, or fruit driven and elegant, is dictated by the vineyard. Understanding this and allowing for the authentic translation of its terroir is paramount for making unforgettable wines. Small, open top fermentations, mixing the cap gently with punch downs and selection of only the best French and American oak are only part of the care that go into handcrafting their wines. http://www.truetthurst.com/