Reaping the Benefits of Cutting-Edge Irrigation Technologies
An increasing number of vineyard managers in Napa Valley are experimenting with cutting-edge technologies to precisely target irrigation scheduling, save water and increase the quality of the fruit on the vine.
Tule Technologies and Ranch Systems provide tools to vintners to measure Actual Evapotranspiration, vine stress and wirelessly provide vineyard data that can be linked to automated irrigation. Pine Ridge Vineyards and Chateau Montelena Winery were early adopters of these technologies and they are impressed with the results.
Our Ranch Systems weather stations combined with the Tule sensors have significantly reduced water use as well as labor. And with precision irrigation, the fruit quality dramatically improves.
Gustavo Aviña, vineyard manager, Pine Ridge VineyardsRead More
Three Napa Green Wineries Explore a Commuting Partnership
"It was just so relaxing - drinking my coffee and not worrying about driving," said Cynthia Sharp, office and green team manager at Cakebread Cellars, as she discussed carpooling to work with a coworker. When asked whether she'd take advantage of an upscale, private bus service complete with WiFi and TVs to get to and from work if Cakebread were to offer it, she said: "Definitely."
As part of Down to Earth Month, the NVV is promoting the Napa Commute Challenge and exploring what our members are doing to incentivize the use of alternative transportation to and from work. Cakebread Cellars, St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery and Opus One have promoted the use of alternative transportation for some time, and are now looking toward the future.Read More
Electric vehicles (EV) are growing in popularity, making a winery's decision to install EV charging stations not only a sound environmental investment but an opportunity to attract eco-conscious consumers. Wineries with EV charging stations are hearing the same story: A guest was in need of a charge, found that the nearest station was at a winery and decided to stop in for a taste while plugged in. Not your typical gas station experience!
EV stations are one small part of our entire sustainability initiative, but it's a really important part. We find that we're able to find customers for life.
Matt Crafton, winemaker, Chateau Montelena
At Chateau Montelena the decision to install an EV charging station started with a wine club pouring at a San Francisco Giants game. Matt was asking club members when they had last visited the winery and a few said they would come up more often – but their electric vehicles would require a charge. "Just as (vine) leaves serve as solar panels for our fruit, we thought we should take advantage of our solar panels for the winery and use them to benefit customers."Read More
Judd’s Hill Cuts Tank Cleaning Water Use by 66 Percent
It’s hard to imagine getting fired up about tank and bottling line cleaning. But Eric Lyman, winemaker for Judd’s Hill, is genuinely excited about a new biodegradable cleaning product developed specifically for the wine industry: Destainex LF. The product, produced by Scott Labs, saves time, water and energy, improves safety and leads to less wear and tear on equipment.
Judd’s Hill is one of the first wineries in Napa Valley to use Destainex LF and they haven’t seen any downside. Many wineries have standard operating procedures for cleaning making change to established practices difficult. Nichola Hall with Scott Labs says, “The people that use [Destainex] love it. The challenge is getting folks to switch over.” Napa Green staff met with Eric and his crew to see why they’re such big proponents of this product.
Eric notes the product saves time: “We’ve eliminated two major cleaning steps: citric and rinse. Our team is saving a ton of time because of this. We also have one less solution to prepare.” With Destainex there is just one single-pass rinse for the tanks.Read More
Partnerships Help Restore the Napa River
Setting the Scene
Restoration of the Napa River is a testimony to the power of public-private partnerships in revitalizing the health of waterways and riparian lands. More than 70 property owners are contributing to four ongoing collaborative projects from Oak Knoll to just south of Calistoga, along the main stem of the Napa River. Napa Valley vintners and grape growers play a critical role, giving up valuable land and signing long-term agreements to propel restoration projects forward. Their contributions include the rededication of more than 70 acres of vineyard land to native riparian habitat along the river.
Landowners see the future for their kids engaging with the river. Where there were 20-foot incised banks and impenetrable Himalayan blackberry, Arundo, and other invasive species, we now have access to the river again.
Davie Piña, Piña Vineyard Management
What Motivates Restoration?Read More
Save Water, Save Money, Maximize Quality
“The best irrigation schedule has a triple bottom line: efficient use of water, sensible use of labor and maximum quality of fruit.” - Charles Schembre, vineyard conservation coordinator, Napa County Resource Conservation District.
Efficient, targeted irrigation benefits both your bottom line and the quality of your fruit, ensuring vines get the right amount of water at the right time. Here are the benefits of irrigation efficiency:
- Maximize grape quality
- Optimize grape yields
- Minimize operational costs and improve labor efficiency
- Reduce disease risks to your crop
The Napa County Resource Conservation District (RCD) received grant funding to assist growers with low- to no-cost services that improve vineyard irrigation efficiency and scheduling. These include a comprehensive “Irrigation Toolbox” and the “Mobile Irrigation Lab” (a core component of the Toolbox).
The Irrigation ToolboxRead More
Wineries Save Time and Money with New Integrated Resource Assessments
Integrated Resource Assessments, a core component of the Napa Green Winery certification process, have identified more than $280,000 in annual energy rate change savings and another $180,000+ in energy rebate potential, saving Napa Green wineries more than $500,000 as of January 2018.
In the past, wineries had to go through three separate audits of their energy, water and waste systems in order to achieve certification and recertification – the one-stop IRA takes care of them all at once. This whole-system analysis identifies practical opportunities to save both resources and money.
Napa Green partners with Sustainable Napa County (SNC) on the assessments. The first step of an IRA is a simple energy rate analysis. Domaine Chandon was a huge winner, saving more than $60,000 with their rate change.
It was very rewarding working with SNC engineer Bill Bennett and Napa Green staff on the Integrated Resource Assessment. With their keen focus, we identified areas where we can improve our sustainability and save money. Through the PG&E/MCE rate analysis we were able to save over $60,000. They helped us plan for the future sustainability of our business.Read More
Are You Leveraging Your Sustainability Certification?
Most wineries don’t pursue sustainability certification for marketing purposes. But, an increasing number of studies shows both consumers and trade value environmental stewardship and use this information in their wine purchasing and sales decisions.
Today, we find the end consumer has a greater degree of interest in knowing that the wine they buy is both grown and produced in a sustainable manner. For our 2016 vintage, we have added the Napa Green logo to our back label to help convey that message.
Bruce Cakebread, President and CEO of Cakebread Cellars
Sustainability can help differentiate your wine and serve as a tiebreaker on the shelf. In one of their key Canadian markets, Jackson Family Wines recently tested the correlation between advertising their environmental commitment and sales. The result? A 19 percent sales increase simply by using bottleneckers with sustainability information. A 2017 study from Cone Communications offers additional support: of 1,000 U.S. consumers surveyed, 89 percent said they would switch to a brand associated with a good cause given similar price and quality.Read More
Saving Energy With Solar at Honig Vineyard and Winery
Honig Vineyard & Winery has spent the past ten years investing in energy conservation and renewable energy, and it all started with a PG&E energy audit. As a result of the initial audit, which included an assessment of their existing energy use and recommendations for upgrades, Michael Honig and his team changed out all of the old lighting for the highest efficiency lighting with a no-brainer payback period. They then optimized their processing and refrigeration equipment for maximum efficiency, making sure that future energy investments weren't just subsidizing inefficiencies.
The next step? Evaluating their property for solar. Although the idea of "marginal" farmland in Rutherford is hard to imagine, the family had just that – a small plot of land that wasn't great for growing grapes, but was perfect for turning sunlight into energy. In 2006, the winery flipped the switch on 819 solar panels, generating 147 kilowatts, covering roughly 1/3 of an acre of land. At the time PG&E covered one-third of the cost, state incentives covered another third and Honig covered a third with a ten year low interest loan.Read More
Napa River Restoration Part II: Along the Upper Napa River
A Managed Retreat
The California Land Stewardship Institute (CLSI) is working with landowners on a restoration plan for a 5.3 mile stretch of the upper Napa River just downstream from Calistoga. This stretch of the river is highly entrenched, with vertical 20-25 ft. banks, actively eroding and threatening collapse. The same reach is also host to an invasion of non-native plants, providing habitat to sharpshooters that carry Pierce’s Disease (PD). CLSI is raising funds for the project which will take a different approach than downstream projects; a tactic called “managed retreat.”Read More
Chateau Montelena: Bringing Together Green Technology and Napa Valley History
Chateau Montelena Winery is a stone building nearly 130 years old. But that doesn’t stop winemaker Matt Crafton and members of their leadership team from implementing cutting edge technologies that save energy, water and money while maintaining the integrity of this historic building.
The winery has both Napa Green Land and Winery certifications, but they wanted to further improve efficiency. Matt notes, “Solar is glamorous, but it’s pushing the green ‘easy’ button. Real savings come in the details.” For example, staff noticed when the tasting room is busy, it gets stuffy, requiring more air conditioning. The solution? MacroAir fans with blades shaped like airplane wings. They are low speed, quiet and circulate air efficiently, allowing Chateau Montelena to increase the thermostat 2-4 degrees in summer. “We were the first winery to have this high-tech system. Fans are $3,000 each, but with HVAC savings and customer comfort it was worth it. The fans keep the air dry as well, reducing humidity. It’s a win-win.”Read More
Simple Steps to Reduce Winery Water Use
As one of the original members of both the Napa Green Certified Land and Winery programs, St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery recognizes that sustainability is a path, not a destination. One of their key discoveries on the path to improvement is that day-to-day awareness and staff empowerment are critical.
In 2016, as part of St. Supéry's Napa Green Winery re-certification process they participated in their first “Integrated Resource Assessment.” The assessment is a one-stop energy, water and waste audit that establishes baselines for energy and water use and waste diversion to evaluate areas for improvement.
After reviewing their initial water data, the staff at St. Supéry decided to focus on their water intensity metric. As a first step they trended the water data over time beginning in 2015 to show changes seasonally and with different operations.
Converting numbers to graphs is a key tool in communicating water use, showing large variances and inconsistencies.
David Hiestand, Production CoordinatorRead More
ZD Wines Thinks Green
ZD Wines was recently certified as a Napa Green Winery. "It's the way we think anyway - the way we do everything," said CEO Robert deLeuze, son of founder Norman deLeuze, about the straightforward process to becoming certified.
One of the early members of the modern-day Napa Valley wine industry, ZD was founded by Norman deLeuze and his partner Gino Zepponi. The two mechanical engineers started making wine as a hobby in 1969 and helped establish Los Carneros as a premiere Chardonnay and Pinot Noir growing region. Within a decade, ZD became a full-time venture for Norman and the family purchased property in Rutherford to build their winery.
Conservation in Carneros
The deLeuze family acquired its 34-acre Carneros property from the Moon family in 1996 and immediately converted to organic cultivation. ZD's commitment to the environment is evident from the moment you turn into the property. The long driveway is lined with abundant native flowers and plants, which serve as beneficial habitat for insects and birds that help control unwanted pests. Robert's Chevy Volt is connected to the electric charging station in front of the original 1897 home, which was lovingly restored in 2011.Read More
The Rutherford Reach restoration project has been lauded for rapid accomplishments achieved through private commitment and public partnership. The statistics are notable:Read More
Cakebread Cellars Green Parking Lot Helps to Conserve Water
Bruce Cakebread and Cakebread Cellars are championing water conservation with their new green parking lot – native trees, drought tolerant grasses and flowers, permeable pavement and bio-swales that capture and filter water and recharge groundwater.
Commented Bruce, "We wanted to do something besides black paving and white stripes. We asked ourselves, 'where is all of the water going that hits the pavement?' We decided to go with the model of a green parking lot."
The expanded parking area, built around existing oak, redwood, pecan, palm and other trees, is safer and more streamlined. The "pavement" consists of light-colored, permeable pavers to reflect heat, atop a foot of gravel, and a drainage system that carries water to three bio-swales. During the two large rain storms in December and February, there were no puddles in the parking lot and the swales filled and drained quickly. "We proved it works," Cakebread concluded.Read More
Oakville to Oak Knoll - Building on the Success of the Rutherford Reach
The 9.5 mile Oakville to Oak Knoll (OVOK) Napa River restoration project flows immediately south of the Rutherford Reach restoration. More than 30 landowners are voluntarily participating in this collaborative effort, and like the Rutherford Reach, they are helping fund the long-term monitoring and maintenance of the project. OVOK is expected to cost more than $20 million, with state and federal grants matched by Measure A flood control sales tax funds supporting the effort.Read More
The Benefits of Biochar
Biochar is a form of charcoal that is being tested as a soil amendment in several vineyards throughout Napa County as growers look to improve soil health, increase carbon capture and reduce nutrient inputs.
The use of biochar has the potential to provide the same or better vine growth with less fertilizer and nutrient inputs, and with less irrigation water, and that is the goal. It can also provide longer-term carbon benefits…the life in the soil is what it’s all about for us.
Joseph Brinkley, Vineyard Manager, Bonterra,
“Vineyards Experiment with Biochar as Soil Amendment”
Among those exploring the use of biochar are Cakebread Cellars, Spring Mountain Vineyard and the Napa Resource Conservation District (RCD), which manages an experimental vineyard in Carneros. In Sonoma County, the Bedrock Wine Co.is adding the material to key vineyard properties. Elsewhere in California, larger-scale experiments are being conducted by Monterey Pacific vineyard management company and Bonterra Vineyards, with trials on both newly planted and existing vineyards.Read More
Truchard Vineyards - Big Vineyard, Big Heart
In 1888, Anthony Truchard II’s great, great grandfather moved from Lyon, France to the outskirts of Houston, Texas to start a winery. Though his efforts were ultimately stymied by Prohibition, a vision had already begun to take shape for future generations of his family. Anthony says, "My father Tony grew up on that property in Texas and it planted the seed for his own vineyards and winery."
Tony bought Truchard Vineyards’ first 20 acres in Carneros in the 1970s, before it rose to prominence as a proven wine growing region. Anthony notes, "With the low water table in Carneros, many people didn’t think grapevines would get enough water. We were one of the early adopters of reservoirs for rainwater catchment and drip irrigation. The reservoirs also provide habitat for birds and other animals." Today, the reservoirs serve a dual purpose of saving water for irrigation and providing valuable wildlife habitat, with cormorants and deer visiting frequently.Read More
For ZD Wines Sustainability is a Daily Endeavor
ZD Wines, a family-owned winery operated by the 2nd and 3rd generations of the deLeuze family, is celebrating 50 years in the Napa Valley. They are a perfect case study of how embracing sustainability can support production of great tasting, world-class wines.
This medium-sized winery has a commitment to sustainability that is clear in both its facility management practices and its staff awareness and engagement. The results of this commitment are borne out by data. Water use (for processing as well as administration and hospitality) falls within a desirable range of three to six gallons of water per gallon of wine produced. Total electricity use (both from the grid and via solar photovoltaic generation) shows remarkable efficiency of less than 10-kilowatt hours of electricity required per case of wine produced. The ZD waste diversion rate (percentage of “waste” recycled and composted) is now over 70%. Looking to replicate their results? Here’s how ZD achieves their resource savings:Read More
A History of Waste Reduction at Trinchero Family Estates
Trinchero Family Estates was recently awarded the premier California Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Award Green Medal for their company-wide business leadership, recognizing a history of smart resource use going back nearly 70 years. When the Trinchero family purchased the Sutter Home winery in 1948 they began a tradition of recycling that included purchasing, washing and reusing bottles from neighboring wineries. Kevin LeMasters, VP of operations, says, "It was their way of recycling without even thinking about it." Among its many sustainability innovations, the company's waste reduction and diversion efforts have been particularly notable. They have achieved 80-90% diversion across their facilities in St. Helena and Lodi.Read More