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Ivo I
Ivo III
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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 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. So we asked Dr. Christine Jones, a preeminent soil ecologist from Australia, for her advice. She explained that these companion plants are the only way to structure our heavy clay soil, and advised against their removal.” 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.​

Economic benefits & ROI of workshops: In a time of changing consumer trends, we want you think of us as extended members of your team. We are here to help share information of ways to not only increase your sustainability but also share with you how these things bring with them ROI, decrease in cost, consumer approval & many other economic benefits. 

Join us at our All Things Bottle Sustainability Workshop to hear from our panel of experts. Registration is $20 and the link can be found in our profile. Cheers!
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📣 Don’t miss these events! 

April 26th - All Things Bottle Sustainability, Pine Ridge Vineyards, 9:00am.

May 23rd - The Future of Water Workshop, 9:00am. 

On April 26 we have 12+ speakers covering all aspects of climate smart glass and packaging. Digging in on the truly most sustainable recyclable/compostable/reusable options, with some product show and tell. 

On May 23 we have keynotes from two incredible speakers and internationally renowned experts: Peter Gleick, co-founder of the Pacific Institute and author of The Three Ages of Water, and Mimi Casteel, vineyard manager at Hope Well Wine and forest ecologist. 

Register now!
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Join us for a dinner that brilliantly combines luxury and sustainability with Vintner Kia Behnia, acclaimed Chef Dave Cruz and The Wine Bible Author, Karen MacNeil! 

This event will help Napa Green raise much needed funding to keep our non profit thriving. For more info head to the link in our bio or email social@napagreen.org!
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We invite you join us at a very special wine dinner with @karenmacneilco, Chef Dave Cruz and @neotempowines to raise funds for climate action in the wine industry. 

For further details please go to the link in our profile or email social@napagreen.org. 

We hope to see you there. Cheers!
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Happy Earth Month! While our members celebrate the Earth every day of the year, this month is a great time to showcase those sustainability practices and tell consumers what you do to be green! Be sure to tag @napagreen in your posts, join us @earthdaynapa, and reach out for more ways to get involved!
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Meghan brings her passion for wine and sustainability together in her role as @napagreen’s social media manager. She is both a Vintner and Certified Sommelier and helps our members share their sustainability stories, emphasizing how caring for nature and community elevates both quality and guest experience. 

Thanks for your unwavering passion and dedication @mvino1!
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Join the @napagreen team this earth month at events around the valley at @cliffamily @earthdaynapa @silveroakcellars and more.

We look forward to talking (and drinking) sustainability with you!
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Say hi to @marisataylorwines, our Winery & Climate Specialist. Marisa has supported sustainable farming and green practices from vineyard to cellar and across all winemaking operations and continues to leverage her expertise to help wineries become climate action champions. 

Thanks for all you do!
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Last week we had a great climate smart burn and alternatives demonstration @gloriaferrerwinery where attendees learned techniques for a conservation/low-smoke burn with demonstrations from @thecleanburncompany and @napa.char. 

Additionally, speakers from @naparcd and Treasury Wine Estates presented the results from a recent vineyard biochar application research project. 

Learn more on our website.
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Have you met Sierra, our Climate & Soil Specialist? Sierra works tirelessly to advance climate resiliency in the Napa Valley by collaborating with growers to realize their climate action aspirations. 

Say hi to @growresiliently next time you see her in the field. Thanks for all that you do, Sierra!
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On average 40-60% of a vineyard and winery’s carbon footprint is from packaging and distribution alone. Join us to explore climate smart, sustainable glass, closures, the future of reusable glass, alternative packaging. Hear case studies. Learn what is truly recyclable, and new opportunities to recycle film wrap and label backing. Since 2020, climate smart marketed CPG products have doubled in sales to $3.4 billion. Wine bottles and packaging can be leveraged to meet rising consumer demand for climate smart products.

Get tickets to this workshop @pineridgewine to hear from @napagreen @consciouscontainer @revinobottles @keystonecapsules @cork_supply @neotempowines @estal_packaging @uppervalleydisposal @naparecycling and more!
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You may have seen Megan, our Winery Program Manager, out and about sporting her @napagreen shirt and talking about green practices. Utilizing her background in hospitality, sustainability and engineering she is dedicated in guiding businesses toward a more sustainable future. 

Thanks for all you do @love.dream.breathe!
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Join us for All Things Bottle Sustainability on Friday, April 26th. Link in bio to register!
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Cheers to @abrittain! Anna has worked locally, nationally and internationally on environmental management, including leading @napagreen and @naparise to the forefront of the wine industry climate action movement. 

Keep an eye out for her with our unofficial mascot, Lily, sharing our best practices, facilitating action and growing resilience in our industry and community. 

Thank you for all you do!
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