‘Tis the season to be jolly with a glass of bubbly to celebrate the holidays. So why not make that a glass of organic bubbly?
Not surprisingly, there are a number of European wineries that farm sustainably and only grow organic grapes. You can get some fine selections of Prosecco and Asti Spumante from Italy and champagne from France and parts of Spain as well as some sections of England. But let’s just stick to our home turf, shall we?
California has produced some outstanding wines, sparkling wines among them. And for some vineyards, a sparkling wine made from organic grapes is that much better.
Two California vineyards stand out: Domaine Carneros and Korbel. In September, Korbel announced the launch of its latest Brut Champagne made with organic grapes.
“As more consumers are looking for foods and beverages produced organically, we felt there was an opportunity for Korbel to offer a unique product where there currently isn’t something widely available,” said Gary Heck, owner and president of Korbel Champagne Cellars, in a company press release dated September 15th. “We found that organic practices yield fruit with new and exciting flavors for us to work with. It has been an exciting new development for Korbel.”
Korbel goes that much further with other green practices. Among other things, they use a water irrigation system that decreases their water usage and uses absolutely no well water. In their packaging, they decreased the weight of the glass bottle reducing the energy used to manufacture it and the bottles are packaged in boxes made from 50% post-consumer material.
For Domaine Carneros, farming organically is something they’ve been doing all along. They’ve only just been recognized for it.
“We’ve always taken an active role to preserve the health of the land,” says Eileen Crane, President and Chief Winemaker of Domaine Carneros, on their web site. “The organic certification is the result of years of hard work and dedication to the land, and we’re proud to finally reach this point in our farming practices.”
Crane will tell you that they have flown under the radar with their organic practices, something they started almost twenty years ago under Crane’s tutelage. “Our first commitment is to produce the best wines and we believe that you achieve this through healthy vines, becoming organic was a natural evolution for us from the start,” she said.
Along with organic farming, they also have solar panels, which they installed in 2003. At the time, it was the largest installment of a photovoltaic system at any winery. Since then, others have followed in their footsteps.
Vineyards across the globe are not only focused on sustainability on the farm, but in the farmhouse. Many vintners in Europe and the U.S. have opted for solar panels, recycled and reclaimed materials, as well as a strong focus on land conservation.
While not sparkling wine producers, there are wineries in California that have been very keen on being green. Parducci, part of the Mendocino Wine Company, is the first winery to be carbon neutral by offsetting their emissions. They also use solar power, organic integrated pest management, recycled paper, environmentally friendly packaging and soy ink.
Rodney Strong Winery in Sonoma County also flexes their green muscle. They have carbon neutrality and solar power. They farm their grapes sustainably including composting all grape by-products from the wine making. “It’s part of our values. It’s part of our company,” said Tom Klein, the vineyard’s proprietor, in a company video. “It’s part of what we all as citizens of this world need to do.”
According to a press release dated December 18th from Alternative Energy HQ, Anaba Winery, a new California label that launched last year, is the first winery to use a wind turbine as a renewable source of energy. As John Sweazey, proprietor of the winery, will tell you, there is enough wind to go around. Called anabatic winds that come off the Pacific Coast (hence, the wine’s name, Anaba), Sweazey wanted to harness that natural resource.
But they won’t stop there. “When we start construction on our new winery,” he said in the press release, “we plan to install solar panels to harvest sunlight as well. That will give us a powerful combination of wind and solar, which will move us well on our way to becoming a ‘green’ winery.”
So while you’re busy drinking responsibly this holiday season, you can swish and swirl your way through a number of organic possibilities.
Enjoy and Happy Holidays!
Image courtesy of Korbel and Domaine Carneros.