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Anna Brittain, executive director of Napa Green explains her relationship with natural cork ... and why it's the best!

Natural Cork is a Win for Planet and People

Cork is essential for great wine. If you look at all of the great wines of the world nothing ages the same way as a cork, and nothing has the lifespan of a cork,

Says Richie Allen, Director of Viticulture & Winemaking, at Napa Green Certified Rombauer Vineyards. Most wine drinkers understand that if you are opening a high-quality wine you will be popping a cork. But somewhere along the way confusion has arisen about the sustainability of cork.

When I think about cork I think about wine, of course, and I also think about quality and I think about stewardship.

It’s simple – natural cork is the most sustainable wine closure. Did you know that cork is made from the bark of cork oak trees? The bark cannot be harvested until the oak tree is 25 years old, and is then harvested every nine years, using ancient harvesting techniques. The bark harvest actually prolongs the life of the trees, which can live from 100 to 300 years. This is the definition of a sustainable, renewable resource.

Wait, why am I looking at a cat? Cork oak forests spread across 5.4 million acres in the western Mediterranean, and have been recognized by the World Wildlife Fund as one of the 36 top biodiversity hotspots in the world, home to endangered species like the Iberian lynx, the Iberian imperial eagle, and the Barbary deer. In Portugal, the epicenter of corks forests, the trees have been protected since the 1200s. If a cork oak is cut down without permission from the forest service, there are criminal penalties, even if the trees are dead.

And far more than this is protected in these cork forests. The trees serve as a carbon sink. When considering the full life-cycle of a cork, from the carbon sequestered in the forest, to manufacturing and distribution, cork remains carbon negative, or climate positive. 12,000 natural corks offsets as much CO2e emissions as 83 solar panels. In Portugal, the CO2 stored in cork oak forests is equal to 5% of national emissions.

Also protected is a way of life. 95% of cork forests are owned by families or small to medium companies. The method of harvesting cork bark has been handed down from generation to generation, with cork harvesting being the best paid agricultural job in the world. In rural communities where harvesting is a specialty, often 3-5 people in each family work together to harvest the cork bark.

So, what about those screw caps and synthetic corks? Most metal screw caps have a plastic liner and there are no recycling facilities in the U.S. that can recycle them. They all end up in landfill. Similarly, plastic closures, made from fossil fuels, are not biodegradable and are rarely recycled. Significantly more energy, water, waste generation, and greenhouse gas emissions are required to make these wine closures.

One area where we can all do better is cork recycling. Cork is absolutely recyclable, but we have to get those little corks to the recycling groups like ReCORK and Cork ReHarvest. Many communities have convenient dropoff locations. Here is Napa we bring them to our local Whole Foods. By this time next year, you could be wearing shoes with soles made from your corks.

Read Forbes Story: Cork And The Environment: Recycling, Biodiversity And The Contribution To Fight Global Warming

Going to a cork forest is one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done as a winemaker. This sense of history and time, generation after generation, the trees just keep giving and giving and giving.

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

Hear from Winery Program Manager @love.dream.breathe about Energy Efficiency & Savings, one of our pillars of sustainable winegrowing leadership
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We want to sincerely thank everyone who donated either space, time or proceeds of bottles/food sold to Napa Green during Earth Month! We are a small non-profit that greatly relies on donations of these kinds and we’re so grateful for our supportive community. 

Let’s hear it for: 

📍@trefethenfamily 
📍@pineridgewine 
📍@cliffamily 
📍@neotempowines
📖 @karenmacneilco
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Social Justice, Equity & Inclusion. Perhaps our most important pillar of our six pillars of sustainability leadership. 

Thank you for the beautiful description @growresiliently!
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Register now at the link in our profile! 💦

May 23, 2024
Silver Oak Winery, Oakville
9:00 am - 12:15 pm

One of the most critical agricultural concerns with our changing climate, and more frequent & intense weather extremes, is precipitation and water availability. The good news is opportunities abound to optimize irrigation efficiency, and implement regenerative practices that improve soil health, water infiltration, and retention. 

Join us for The Future of Water, with highlights including a keynote from Peter Gleick, one of the world’s leading water experts, and Mimi Casteel, not only a viticulturist and winemaker, but also a forest ecologist with a vision for water resiliency.
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Join us for The Future of Water Workshop, to explore our water future, with highlights including a keynote from Peter Gleick, one of the world’s leading water experts (all guests will receive a copy of Peter’s most recent book, The Three Ages of Water) and Mimi Casteel, not only a viticulturist and winemaker, but also a forest ecologist with a vision for water resiliency.

Wine grape quality is closely tied to the right amount of water, at the right time. One of the most critical agricultural concerns with our changing climate, and more frequent & intense weather extremes, is precipitation and water availability. We’ve swung from historic drought to atmospheric rivers. Our community has huge swaths of unmanaged, unhealthy forests full of non-natives and overrun by firs, amplifying fire risk and undermining one of the most critical systems for groundwater recharge.

The good news is opportunities abound to optimize irrigation efficiency, and implement regenerative practices that improve soil health, water infiltration, and retention. A watershed coalition has also formed in Napa County to pilot and model creek & forest restoration for localized water resiliency and climate cooling. 

Come learn more on Thursday, May 23rd at 9:00am at @silveroakcellars.
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Sustainably sourced ingredients with Chef Sarah Heller 🌱 Purchase your tax deductible ticket to our Opus One x Napa Green dinner at the link in our profile!
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You’re invited.. 

Full details may be found at the link in our profile. Cheers!
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As we wrap up an amazing Earth Month, we want to thank you all for the support & for coming to see us at our events! 

Let’s keep the momentum going and remember that Earth Day is Every Day! 🌎
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Hear from @marisataylorwines about the importance of  water efficiency & savings and what we can all do to conserve this precious resource.
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Join us for a not to be missed dinner experience at @opusonewinery while supporting philanthropic efforts on behalf of climate action. 

An intimate group of 20 guests will be in attendance on the rotunda overlooking the estate vineyards. Chef Sarah Heller will prepare a four-course, locally-sourced dinner paired with Champagne Barons de Rothschild, Opalie de Château Coutet, and three vintages of Opus One wines. 

You will have the chance to share transformative conversations and form deep connections with industry leaders and change makers. 

Please find full invitation details at the link in our profile.
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Happy Earth Day Napa Valley! It’s an incredible joy to work with you all and see the forward progress being made all over this gorgeous place we call home. Thank you for caring, thank you for stepping up and thank you for making a difference!! 🌎💚
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Thanks to everyone who came out to @earthdaynapa and visited us at the @napagreen wine booth! 

 Cheers to @amici_cellars @cakebreadcellars @domainecarneros @handwrittenwines @robertmondavi and @whiterockvineyards for donating the certified sustainable wines to raise money for the Environmental Education Coalition of Napa County and helping make it a great event!
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We’re pouring some stellar Napa Green wines tomorrow at @earthdaynapa to include: 

@cakebreadcellars, @domainecarneros, @whiterockvineyards, @handwrittenwines, @amici_cellars & @robertmondavi!

Come by the booth! 🍷🌎
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What you can do in the vineyard & what you can do at home! 🌼🦋

#happyearthday #earthmonth #sustainability #biodiversity #pollinators #herbicidefree #napa #napavalley #cheers
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Come on by to @cliffamily! 💚🍴
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Come get involved this Earth Month! 🌎🌱

🌷 Earth Day Napa - Saturday, April 20th 11am -4pm at Oxbow Commons

🌷All Things Bottle Sustainability Workshop - Friday, April 26th at @pineridgewine from 9am -12:30pm. Registration is $20

🌷 All Things Bottle Sustainability Dinner! Friday, April 26th at @neotempowines with Karen MacNeil & Chef Dave Cruz! 

Message us directly or head to the link in our bio for info!
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