Cover Crop

Cover crops provide many benefits and can have important effects on vineyard balance and vine vigor.

The Climate Connection: Napa Green takes on the Climate Challenge

Vintner Julie Johnson has been learning about and using regenerative farming practices at Tres Sabores winery and vineyards for more than 30 years.

These practices include planting cover crops to provide nutrients and add organic matter to the soil, limiting tilling to preserve soil organic matter and prevent erosion, and using sheep to “mow” around the vines (and deposit natural fertilizer).

Recently, she learned that because of these practices, her property is close to being “carbon neutral,” meaning that it is able to sequester the same amount of carbon as what is emitted during farming operations.

“We’ve been able to reduce tractor passes (with their carbon emissions) by switching to crimping — that is, breaking the plant stalks and leaving the plant material in the vineyard rows. We’ve also planted hedgerows and native pollinator plants, which are integral to the vineyard health and sequester even more carbon,” Johnson said.

New Napa Green Vineyard Program

The goal of becoming carbon neutral and eventually carbon negative, or climate positive, is a cornerstone of the new Napa Green Vineyard certification program being rolled out this spring.

Napa Green, an independent non-profit since late 2019, runs sustainability certification programs for vineyards and wineries. The new certification will take the place of the Napa Green Land program, bringing it to the next level of direct action on climate change and social responsibility.

Anna Brittain, executive director of Napa Green, said, “The original Napa Green Land program launched in 2004 recognized third-party certifications focused on preventing erosion and runoff for the health of the Napa River and watershed. What were leading best practices for many years are now required for environmental compliance. Our commitment is to help our members continue to grow their leadership in sustainability and climate action.”

The new program is the first sustainable winegrowing certification to focus specifically on climate action, regenerative farming, and social equity. It contains six core elements:

  • Social equity, justice and inclusion requirements
  • Implementing carbon farming and regenerative practices
  • Irrigation assessments and water use efficiency
  • Tree and forest preservation and enhancement
  • Adherence to a prohibited and restricted pesticides list
  • Conservation burning or burning alternatives

Social equity, justice and inclusion

Developed with a great deal of input from the agricultural community, the certification’s Social Equity, Justice and Inclusion element builds on common best practices for human resources, workforce and neighbor communications to include deeper standards like implicit bias training, sustainability engagement and opportunities for upward mobility for farmworkers.

Gustavo Aviña, viticulture director at Pine Ridge Vineyards, and member of the social equity working group said, “We had the opportunity as growers to give our input to the program, and to share our ideas, opinions and experience from working the vineyards. This certification will benefit our workers by ensuring workers’ rights, increasing benefits, and giving more opportunities for training.”

“One of the most important requirements is to encourage employees to attend training outside the company,” he added. “For me, the more prepared and educated our workers are, the better we can do as a company.”

Partnership with RCD

Several of the certification elements were developed in partnership with the Napa County Resource Conservation District (RCD), including aspects addressing carbon farm plans, irrigation and conservation burning.

“A carbon farm plan makes use of the US Department of Agriculture’s COMET and COMPOST Planners to quantify how different practices impact carbon sequestration, which in turn affects soil health,” said environmental scientist Dr. Miguel Garcia, RCD’s Sustainable Agriculture Program manager. “We look at a lot of parameters to determine soil health, and at the center is its carbon content. A carbon farm plan allows growers to balance practices that put carbon into the ground with those that put carbon into the air—and choose which practices to use.” These practices include adding compost, growing cover crops, and reducing tillage among others, he explained.

With respect to irrigation, Garcia said, “The irrigation assessment has a tremendous value for protecting our water resources so that growers are only using the amount of water they need, which also benefits grape quality. During the assessments, I’ve seen problems come up with old irrigation systems, but most changes needed are minor, for example adjusting water pressure or cleaning out irrigation lines.”

Conservation burning is the minimum required method of pile burning for pulled vines. RCD and Napa Green have been hosting workshops on this technique and will continue to do so.

“Our workshops have been led by Raymond Baltar from the Sonoma Ecology Center. He shows there is an alternative way to burn piles that reduces smoke and air pollution by 75-85% and leaves more material as charcoal,” Garcia said. “By producing this charcoal or biochar, one limits how much material goes into the atmosphere and how much carbon stays on site.”

Benefits for the Napa Valley

Julie Johnson of Tres Sabores sees many benefits in the comprehensive new program. “This expands my farm plan and sets a standard for best practices. Here at Tres Sabores, we get such positive feedback from our guests and such engagement and excitement about the regenerative practices we are able to do. Our visitors love discovering growers who are making genuine efforts to be sustainable.”

Actions you can take:

  • For growers: Register to become a Napa Green Vineyard at application.napagreen.org/#/request-vineyard-account.
  • For wine drinkers: Support Napa Green certified wineries and vineyards. Learn more at napagreen.org.
  • Support Napa Green’s efforts with a donation to help provide implementation support at napagreen.org/donations.
  • Join Napa Climate NOW’s Climate Rides June 4, 5, and 6 featuring Climate Action presentations in Napa County (and beyond)! 

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.​

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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