Napa Green and Baginski made their marks by working to enhance and protect Napa County’s natural and working lands, reinforcing carbon dioxide sequestration and supporting climate resiliency.
Napa Green introduced its Napa Green Vineyard certification program in 2022, replacing the former Napa Green Land program. This program works with growers to achieve carbon neutrality or better within six to nine years. Over 100 requirements are grouped under six core elements: carbon farming and regenerative soil practices; irrigation assessments and water use efficiency; tree and forest preservation; adherence to a prohibited and restricted pesticides list; use of conservation/low-smoke burning or alternatives; and social justice, diversity and inclusion.
Emphasizing climate action, growers adopt custom “carbon farm plans” to increase carbon sequestration on their property through practices like compost addition, cover crops, reduced tillage, and other regenerative practices. So-called “conservation burns” reduce emissions of black carbon, a potent climate and air pollutant, compared to typical burning of agricultural wastes, and can produce biochar, a carbon-storing charcoal-like material that can be added to soil to increase water and nutrient retention.
To increase social responsibility, the program includes implicit bias training for leadership, performance reviews and understanding career goals, and sustainability “tailgate” trainings aimed at empowering staff to identify water conservation opportunities.
“We’re already seeing the social equity requirements drive growers and vineyard management companies to establish new practices for employee engagement and communication,” said executive director Anna Brittain.
Fourteen growers have been certified so far, and 40 more are in progress.
Tod Mostero, director of viticulture and winemaking for Dominus Estate, noted, “the process led Dominus Estate to measure our environmental impact and, since we can only change what we measure, has strengthened our methods for interacting with our site’s vital resources: soils, water, flora, fauna, and people. Ultimately, this certification improves the grower’s relationship to the land and deeply informs farming decisions.”
Yvonne Baginski, who is passionate about preserving Napa County’s open spaces, was recognized for leading the “No on Measure J” campaign.
Measure J was aimed at expanding American Canyon’s city limits to include the 157-acre Green Island Vineyard property, located on the edge of tidal wetlands along the Napa River, and allowing it to be rezoned from agricultural land to industrial.
The Napa Valley Vintners, Napa Valley Grapegrowers, Winegrowers and the Farm Bureau opposed this rezoning because it would set a “dangerous precedent” placing industrial development above farmland preservation.
Baginski focused on the environmental and climate impacts that would result from industrial development on this land. She and her small team — Eve Kahn, Gary Margadent, and Bev Saxon Leonard — educated voters, going door-to-door and talking with walkers they met on the wetlands trails.
Baginski also alerted regional environmental and climate organizations to the potential loss of open space and wildlife habitat along the wetlands trail.
One climate concern, pointed out by Napa Climate NOW!, was that modeling of sea level rise by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) projects significant sea level intrusion on the property beginning at a rise of just two feet.
“The property borders a regional estuary that is important for the entire Bay Area,” Baginski said. “Sea level rise will force birds and animals that depend on this habitat to move inland. We need to protect agricultural land on the border and to restore it as marshland.”
The defeat of Measure J showed that Baginski’s efforts paid off. The community was not ready to turn agricultural land, with its carbon sequestration and wildlife habitat benefits, into warehouses.
— Follow the next two profiles of other 2022 Climate Champions in The Napa Valley Register.
Napa Climate NOW! is a local nonprofit citizens’ group advocating for smart climate solutions based on the latest climate science, part of 350 Bay Area.:napa.350bayarea.org. Info, Napa Climate NOW! is a local non-profit citizens’ group advocating for smart climate solutions based on the latest climate science, part of 350 Bay Area. Info, napa.350bayarea.org.