An aerial view of the Cakebread Winery in Rutherford. Cakebread was one of the earliest wineries to receive a Napa Green certification, according to president Bruce Cakebread. - Rocco Ceselin

Napa's wine industry to boost environmental sustainability

Napa Green has long been ahead of its time.

In recent years, in tune with scientific revelations around climate change and technology, global agriculture has increasingly turned an eye towards sustainability. Farmers and producers have pushed to cut back use of harmful pesticides, conserve water and electricity and practice stewardship of their land. Those are all pillars of Napa Green’s sustainability certification program, the earliest iteration of which formed in the early 2000s.

It was a time on the cusp of the environmentalism movement. Early Napa Green members were specifically concerned with the health of the Napa River watershed, according to Michelle Novi, who oversees Napa Green in partnership with the Napa Valley Vintners, which has taken the program “under its wing”.

“It was a group of industry stakeholders, environmental groups like the Sierra Club, local regulators, and those at the state and federal level as well,” Novi said. The applications of the program grew from there.

“Everyone saw it was an opportunity to develop something that could benefit the health of the valley. And that’s exactly what it’s done,” Novi added.

The Vintners, too, saw Napa Green’s potential. In a county like Napa, which has long emphasized land stewardship, the program was not only in keeping with trend, but tradition.

Feeling they had the resources available to grow Napa Green to the full of its potential, the Vintners became what Novi calls “champions-in-chief” of the program. In 2015, the group announced their 2020 initiative: partnering with Napa Green, they’d work to certify 100 percent of their eligible members by the end of this coming year.

Eligibility is fairly straightforward, Novi said: it includes all member wineries, and winegrowers with more than 5 acres of vineyard land. At the time of the announcement, less than a third of were certified. Today, the number is something close to 80 percent — not quite a goal yet met, but progress that Director of Industry Relations Rex Stults calls “massive strides.”

As the initiative approaches its final year, Napa Green is looking ahead and considering what is still to come, Novi said.

Expansion, for one thing. Program Coordinator Anna Brittain said Napa Green’s emphasis on winery certification is already a departure from the agriculture-only focus of most wine grapegrowing sustainability programs. Napa County currently accounts for 40 percent of certified sustainable wineries statewide, Brittain said. She thinks the program could reach further.

“We want to encourage more of the hospitality industry at large to be sustainable,” Brittain said. “We’re exploring the idea of helping facilitate certification for hotels, restaurants and (wine-related) events as well.”

The certification process for wineries is fairly extensive, taking into account everything from water and energy used in winemaking, landscaping, waste reduction and proper disposal of batteries and light bulbs. Just as that could be seen as challenging for the hospitality industry today, certification was a serious undertaking for many of the valley’s wineries when the program began, according to Bruce Cakebread, president of Cakebread Cellars. But, he said, it’s all about mindset.

Cakebread Cellars received its winery certification from Napa Green in 2008, making it one of the program’s earliest adapters.

“Go back 10, 15 years ago — things were really different than what we see today.” Cakebread said, citing recycling as an example. Cakebread Cellars doubled its recycling efforts from 48 percent of its total waste to 93 percent under Napa Green.

“In the early days, just getting that behavior change was kind of the thing everyone had to focus on,” Cakebread added.

Cakebread Cellars has used the idea of behavioral to implement sustainable practices elsewhere in its business model. Many, like usage of LED lights, are both environmentally and budget friendly—a trend that’s helped membership along, according to Cakebread.

Brittain pointed to incoming 2020 deadlines for new vineyard wastewater management requirements. Napa Green will be the easiest way for growers to achieve compliance, she said, and the program could serve as a similar vehicle toward compliance for wineries one day. On a broader scale, Novi added, sustainable wine grapegrowing practices will mean resiliency in the face of climate change.

Their progress hasn’t gone unnoticed; last November, the Vintners won the state’s top environmental award for their work with Napa Green. Cakebread, for his part, said he’s just as excited by what’s ahead of Napa Green as he is by what’s behind it.

“We’ve been through this for 10 or 12 years now. We’ve gotten this far: where do we want to take it?” he said. “I have no idea where that is, but as people come up with ideas and how to measure our impact — that’ll be pretty exciting.”

Making the commitment to third party certification takes time and effort, but it is worth it to demonstrate our commitment to the community and to protect our watershed, our land and the air we breathe.​

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!
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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 

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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