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Flight Rail Corp. dba River Bend Vineyards

River Bend Vineyards is located north of Hopland along the Russian River. Owned by Max and Joan Schlienger, River Bend Vineyards has 109 acres of winegrapes including Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay. The other side of the business, Flight Rail Corp., is a research and development company working on a high speed passenger rail system. The 1/6 scale outdoor model (VECTORR™) operates on an elevated guideway above the Syrah vineyard and definitely adds to the quality of our grapes!

Date Certified
June 1, 2015
Locations Certified


River Bend Vineyards


Sustainable Practices

Below is a sampling of the sustainable practices adopted by the Certified Participant. This is not a comprehensive list but provides some examples of the types of practices they use.

Ecosystem Management

River Bend Vineyards takes pride in maintaining the vineyard ecosystem and its sustainability. The topography of the property is such that we get runoff from the top of the hills above the vineyards that flows into low lying areas during a normal year of precipitation from November to April. This is a considerable amount of water. We utilize the runoff from our property not only as a conservation effort, but as a savings in fuel and power costs. A large portion of this water is stored in Pond #1 (8 acre feet) and Pond #2 (24 acre feet) and therefore does not come directly from our wells. The source of origin for our major water requirements during a normal rainfall year can be primarily from our deeded property of 410 acres.

There are drain tiles installed above our hillside Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard that drain into our ponds, and there are drain tiles installed north of Pond #1 that drain the rain water from 45 acres of vineyards into the pond. The subsurface water continues to drain over the summer months during a normal rainfall year. Storage water that is pumped into Pond #2 can be gravity fed to Pond#1 for irrigation and frost protection distribution. The high water table close to Pond #2 allows water to leak in to the pond when the water level in the pond is low enough. This water can also be used for drip irrigation well into the summer in years that we have average rainfall or better. The savings in diesel fuel and electricity is considerable when we can fill our ponds from runoff and the high water table.

Additional water is provided by six offset wells. There are no in-stream pipes, pumps, or screens in use. We meter all water from our irrigation wells. All vineyards either face directly onto the main stem of the Russian River, or they drain into tributaries (McNab Creek and Pringle Creek) that drain shortly into the Russian River without restriction; therefore, all return water will enter back into the Russian River system and proceed downstream.

All vineyards are set back from the banks of Pringle Creek and McNab Creek to create a large buffer zone for fish and wildlife. Bridges were installed for creek crossings and only large obstructions are removed from Pringle Creek to facilitate the movement of storm water and ease flooding.

Sediment basins, drain tiles, water bars, boulders and rock, and drains are all incorporated into the vineyards to minimize erosion and help with water clarity. The basins are cleaned out during the dry season as needed. 


Rocks used to minimize erosion. 
Pond #1
Pond #2



Syrah Vineyard with Flight Rail Corp.'s Elevated Transportation System: VECTORR™ 


Hillside Cabernet Sauvignon
Sauvignon Blanc

Additional Information

We appreciate our vineyard management company, Chevalier Vineyard Management, for the high marks we received in sustainability. We are pleased with how naturally sustainable we are through their practices in Viticulture, Soil Management, Vineyard Water Management, Wine Quality, and Pest Management.