Ivo I
Ivo II

Seven Principles of Regenerative Agriculture:

  1. Context
  2. Limit Disturbance
  3. Armor the Soil
  4. Living Roots
  5. Build Biodiversity
  6. Phaseout Chemical Inputs
  7. Integrate Animals

Grgich Hills Estate – Growing Vineyard Health, ROI, and Welcoming Companion Plants

As with sustainability, building a regenerative farm system is a journey, not a destination. Grgich Hills Estate has been on this journey for more than 20 years, and when you stand in their vineyards you see and feel the difference. As Ben Mackie, our Vineyard Program Manager, noted, “If you’re a bug or a bird, you want to be living in these vineyards.” Not only that, but Grgich has been collecting the data and making the case for the economics of regenerative, organic farming. Ivo Jeramaz, Winemaker and Vice President of Vineyards & Production, says, 

Regenerative practices are a proactive approach to farm health. If you’re healthy enough you don’t get sick – you’re able to fight off disease and pests.

Ivo notes that perhaps the biggest challenge, or benefit, of shifting to truly regenerative farming is that it requires a “paradigm shift.”

Social Sustainability: Let’s start with the foundation – social sustainability. As part of achieving the new(ish) Regenerative Organic Certification, Grgich increased the hourly rate for their vineyard stewards to $23/hour. The stewards went from 60 hrs/wk with no overtime to 40 hrs/week with overtime. Grgich has a year-round crew of 45 people that they hire from a vineyard management company. “The vineyard team feels valued, is happier, and more motivated,” says Ivo. “Productivity has doubled or tripled. Even with rising supply chain costs our overall costs are only up 3-4% over the past few years.” As we stress at Napa Green, this is the ROI of investing in your team, not just in terms of a living wage but also training, opportunity, empowerment.

Companion Plants: Part of Grgich’s paradigm shift has been ceasing to see weeds and instead “companion plants.” In Grgich vineyards they build up about 2’ of cover around the vines and bring in the sheep, who eat voraciously. Ivo stresses, “It’s important not to keep the sheep in one area for too long. They’ll overgraze the cover crop and compact the soil. We want to keep ground cover year-round.” Grgich only mows the vineyard alleys, using a weed-knife or Twister undervine, and they’ve seen the benefits of soil water retention by eliminating tillage.

In terms of disease, 35-40% of vines in their Yountville old vine vineyards have leafroll, but their yield and quality remain on par with the Napa Valley average. In an average rainfall year, the 65 year old Yountville vineyard is producing 3.7 tons/acre and their 20 y/o vineyard averages 4.3 tons/acre. “Our regenerative practices are like a vaccine,” notes Ivo. “You only have to worry about red leaf if your vines and ecosystem are weakened.” Similarly, despite 2023 being a very wet year they had no mildew pressure.

Grgich replanted portions of their American Canyon vineyard last year due to diseased clones and a history of over-application of fertilizers. There is heavy gopher pressure but they’ve solved that with dozens of owl boxes, which have 90-95% occupancy. This year there were 32 pairs, and each family removes up to 8,000 rodents! This vineyard is perhaps their most remarkable site to see. The companion plants have grown to 5-6’ tall. “At first this was scary,” admits Ivo. “We didn’t want them to grow into the canopy. But we brought out researchers from UC Davis to analyze the vines and they’re thriving.” Again, the paradigm shift.

Bottom Line: Grgich works with an accounting firm that does an annual analysis of average farming costs for their 140+ clients. In 2022, the analysis found the average farming cost per acre in Napa Valley is $14,800, with $3,800 in depreciation. At Grgich, they spend $11,000 per acre, with only $1,300 in depreciation due to the longer life of their vineyards. Mic drop. 

Festival of the Bells: Every fall, Grgich is now hosting the Festival of the Bells, with the mission of “Cultivating Peace Through Agriculture.” They’re bringing together regenerative leaders, Nobel Prize laureates, and industry peers to explore how they can support growers and farmers in transitioning to regenerative practices, learn what is working in different regions, and plan for the future. This forum raises money for Roots for Peace.

Grgich Hills Estate truly embodies our motto,

Caring for Nature & Community Elevates Quality & Experience.

I've been at this for 30 years and this is the best, most well-thought-out program I've ever seen.​

A live check in with @abrittain &!
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🌿 Did you know that less than 3% of philanthropic donations go to environmental work? 

Please consider donating to Napa Green this giving season with one of several ways at any level! 

Head to the link in our bio for details!
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With gratitude and joy, we wish you a beautiful day & start to the holiday season from all of us at Team Green! 

- Ben, Meghan, Anna, Marissa, Sierra & Megan
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‘If not here, where? If not now, when?’ 

“The onus is on us as a world class wine growing region to be leaders in sustainability & climate action.” 

- Executive Director of Napa Green, Anna Brittain
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It’s been a big week at Napa Green and we want to take a moment to raise a glass to salute you all. 

We are overjoyed to see so much support and invigorated interest in our mission towards sustainable practices and regenerative agriculture in the wine industry. 

We have many more details, paired with educational & financial resources that are already up and rolling on our website. We will continue to share them all, one by one and in great detail here on socials as well. 

For now please plan on joining us at our upcoming Town Hall meeting on Dec 7th at @stsupery. You can find more details at 

Cheers and Happy Friday Napa Valley. We are so proud to be a part of this amazing community!
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⚠️ Important Announcement 

Napa Green becomes the first sustainable wine growing certification to require the phaseout of Round Up. 

Please find the link in our bio for the full press release and full suite of info & grower resources. 

Join us on December 7th for our Napa Green Town Hall at @stsupery.
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Don’t miss the awe-inspiring @nikki_silvestri at @dominusestatewinery on Nov 30th!
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You’re invited to join us for a very special day at @dominusestatewinery on November 30th. 

We’ll be briefly interviewing our speaker @nikki_silvestri right here on Instagram today at 2:00pm PST to hear more about what to expect at this event. See you then.
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Curious to learn more? Join us at @dominusestatewinery on November 30th for a rare event and luncheon. Link in bio for details.
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GREEN is the new black this season!! 

Head to the link in our bio now and get your shirts, help a good cause and be an honorary part of Team Green this season! 💚
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Let’s hear it for our Executive Director of Napa Green, the incomparable Anna Brittain for being named a 2023 Wine Industry Leader by @winebusinessmonthly!! 

In their Sustainability Stewards section (which we love to see) we find Anna named in good company with inspired fellow leaders! 

Head to our stories or the link in our bio for free access to the full November issue. 

Cheers to the great work of our visionary Director Anna Brittain!!
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Drink Green this Halloween! 💚
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Sierra is our Soil & Climate Specialist at Napa Green and her ask this year is that everyone consider donating to our small but mighty Team Green for Giving Season! 

Here is more from @regenwithsierra: 

“🎃 Happy Halloween Eve everyone! Today is my birthday, and I would be beyond thrilled if you would consider a donation to @napagreen to support a nonprofit focused on climate action in the wine industry 🍷🍾

@napagreen has the leading set of standards for sustainable practices, from soil to bottle. I am most proud of the work we do with winegrape growers to adopt regenerative agricultural practices in their vineyards. 

Please consider supporting us in our mission!  Click the link in bio for more! “
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Thank you for having us @visitnapavalley! We had a great time talking to visitors about the many sustainability practices our Napa Green wineries and vineyards employ! 

Stop into the Visit Napa Valley Visitor Center in Napa to learn more!
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