From vineyard treks to barbecues, the Napa Green Certified Wineries will be offering special tours, tastings and events over Earth Day weekend April 20-21.
The Wine Institute, an advocacy and public policy association for California wine, has declared April “Down to Earth Month” and has encouraged each winemaking region in the state to participate by planning activities to educate consumers about sustainable practices and encourage them to support sustainability in their own lives.
For the wineries and landowners in Napa Valley, many already participate in the county’s sustainability program, Napa Green. Over Earth Day weekend, some of the Napa Green Certified vineyards and wineries will offer special tours, tastings and discounts in honor of Down to Earth Month.
Napa Green was founded in 2003 as Napa Green Land to create and share sustainability practices. Today, the program includes Napa Green Certified Land and Napa Green Certified Winery.
The Napa Valley Vintners have taken a lead in stewarding the Napa Green program, although they do not run it. According to Michele Novi, the industry relations manager for the Vintners, all certifications are awarded by a third-party group and are based on a checklist of more than 20 local, state and federally determined best practices. The voluntary certification program is open to any vintner or grapegrower in Napa County.
Marla Bleecher of Jericho Canyon Vineyard explained their participation: “As farmers, as winemakers, our lives revolve around a series of choices. Here at Jericho Canyon we view those choices through the lens of the Napa Green or Fish Friendly farmer, always choosing the option which protects or enhances this beautiful canyon in the Napa watershed.”
The Napa Green website explains that the Certified Land program’s goal is to “restore, protect and enhance the regional watershed.” Plans are crafted for each specific property and can include non-farmed and wild land. Novi gave the examples of planting cover crops, employing the use of bird and owl boxes and concentrating on fighting erosion as a few of the practices used by land owners in their efforts to increase sustainability. She noted the program has been successful with 55,000 total acres enrolled and more than 32,000 acres already certified. The remaining acres are in the process of obtaining their certifications.
In 2008, Napa Green Certified Winery was created by the Napa Valley Vintners in coordination with the Napa County Department of Environmental Management. The program is focused on helping wineries become more sustainable in their entire operation, including water and energy conservation, pollution prevention and solid waste reduction. Novi pointed out that many wineries are making the investment to go green, and highlighted small steps like changing out light bulbs to more costly ones, such as adding jackets to tanks, as ways they are doing so.
Emma Swain, CEO of St. Supéry Estate, which is participating in the April festivities, said she believes Earth Day is “an opportunity for all of us to reflect on how our choices affect our community and to consciously evaluate how we can change our practices to best preserve the health of our community and our land.”
St. Supéry will be offering tours of one of its certified vineyards and winery while pouring specially selected wines.
At V. Sattui, Claudette Shatto, vice president for marketings, said they are celebrating all month long. The winery will “offer an opportunity to taste many of the wines produced from its Green Farming programs, including single-vineyard wines from Vittorio’s Vineyard now certified as organically farmed, as well as several wines from our sustainably farmed Henry Ranch estate vineyard,” she said.
Novi added, “We really want to make this something we draw attention to. We hope people will consider visiting the wineries that are participating over Earth Day weekend.”
Napa Green will also be participating in the Earth Day festival taking place in downtown Napa on Saturday, April 20. They will have a booth with information on their programs, as well as what they have planned. More information is at NapaGreen.org.
St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery: Napa Green Vineyard to Glass Tour at St. Supéry Estate
- April 19-21, times vary
- St. Supery Estate Vineyards & Winery, 8440 St. Helena Highway, Rutherford
- Details: Chris Parker, 707-963-4507
- Cost: $15
Join wine educators for a tour of the Napa Green certified Rutherford Estate Vineyard.The tours begins with a tasting of St. Supéry Napa Valley Estate Sauvignon Blanc before touring the winery. The tour concludes with three more sustainably farmed estate wines.
The Hess Collection Winery: An Earth Day Walk About
- April 19-21: 11:30 and 2:30, by reservation
- 4411 Redwood Road, Napa
- Details: Jim Caudill, 707-256-3489
- Normal tasting fees apply ($10). Napa Neighbors (2 for 1 tastings) are welcome.
The Hess Collection will host 45-minute vineyard walks through the historic Mont La Salle vineyard, exploring a range of Napa Green sustainable practices. From the organically farmed Brother Timothy old vine cabernet block planted in 1936 through more recent blocks, explore different trellising, spacing and viticultural approaches to mountain farming before returning to the winery to enjoy a tasting of current releases.
The 2012 Hess Small Block Series Syrah Rosé will be offered with a 10 percent Earth Day discount. The visitor center and Hess Art Museum is open daily 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Jericho Canyon Vineyard: Sustainability In Action Vineyard Tour and Tasting
- April 19-21, by appointment
- 3322 Old Lawley Toll Road, Calistoga
- Details: 707-331-9076
- Cost: $30 per person, which will be donated to The Nature Conservancy.
Since 1989, the Bleechers have sustainably farmed grapes for their cabernet sauvignon and sauvignon blanc. The weekend tour with owner Marla Bleecher includes a walk through the hillside vineyard to learn about sustainable grape growing, pest management, and land use along with a tour of the reclaimed redwood winery and a sit-down tasting in the wine cave.
V. Sattui Winery: Eco-Friendly Wines and Barbecue for Earth Day
- Winery open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
- Barbecue hours: 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- 1111 White Lane, St. Helena
- Contact: V. Sattui Winery, 707-963-7774
- No entrance fee
V. Sattui Winery will be featuring wines from its Certified Organic Estate vineyards, plus its 2010 Black-Sears Zinfandel, which is organic and biodynamic. They will be barbecuing ribs for sale along with tri-tip steak and pulled pork sandwiches.
Honig Vineyard & Winery: Eco Tour and Tasting
- 10 and 11:30 a.m., April 19-21
- 850 Rutherford Road, Rutherford
- Contact: Kelly Bria, 707-963-5618
Take a guided tour through the vineyards to learn about Honig’s sustainable practices, from bug-eating birds to rodent-eating owls to its solar energy system. A tasting of five wines is included.
Markham Vineyards: Celebrate Being Green!
- 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., April 19-21
- 2812 St. Helena Highway North
- Contact: Marie Smith, 707-963-5292
For the weekend, Markham will offer guests a complimentary tasting of Markham Petit Verdot.