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Sustainable Winegrowing Down to Earth Newsletter Archive

The Down to Earth Newsletter was our monthly newsletter inspired by the photo book, Down to Earth: A Seasonal Tour of Sustainable Winegrowing in California, celebrating California vintners and growers' commitment to sustainable winegrowing and winemaking. 

Marathon Tour Makes a Lasting Impression: January 2019

  • Elaine Chukan Brown speaks on CA wine's sustainable practices
  • Adapting farming practices to one's environment
  • Preconceptions by those outside of CA

Getting the Story Out: November 2018

  • Merry Edwards completes 45th harvest
  • Sustainability is a lifestyle
  • Communicating sustainable practices to consumers

Back on Its Feet: October 2018

  • Trefethen rebuilds after the 2014 earthquake 
  • Sustainable practices influence restoration efforts
  • Younger generation takes larger role

Sustainable Changes Pay Off for Napa Winery: September 2018

  • Energy savings through off-peak usage
  • PGE Smart Meters analyze electricity and water usage
  • Eco-friendly packaging
  • Continuous improvement through a comprehensive energy audit

Five Generations and Counting: August 2018

  • Effects of family history on decision making at LangeTwins
  • How to look backwards and forwards at the same time
  • An evolving company

Winery Tackles a Building Challenge: July 2018

  • Silver Oak Winery's new LEED Platinum winery and tasting room
  • Living Building Challenge (LBC) vs LEED certification
  • Choosing materials for green building
  • The business sense

Winery Keeps the Past Alive: June 2018

  • The importance of historical preservation to the Wetzel family at Alexander Valley Vineyards
  • Looking forward while building on the past
  • The farm ecosystem
  • Continuous improvement in certification

Honoring Differences, Bridging Divides: May 2018

  • KG Vineyard Management, recipient of the 2018 Community Green Medal
  • Developing resources for a Pakistani workforce
  • The importance of communication with employees

CA Grown Celebrates Farmers: April 2018

  • What is CA Grown?
  • The family farm and young people
  • Putting a story behind California's specialty crops

New Sustainable Logo Debuts: March 2018

  • Ponte Winery is one of the first to showcase the new CERTIFIED SUSTAINABLE logo on the bottle
  • What drove Ponte's decision to use the new logo
  • Communicating to consumers about sustainability efforts

Sustainability Effort Celebrates 15 Years: February 2018

  • Steve and Jerry Lohr offer perspective from the early days of CSWA
  • How has CSWA evolved over the years
  • CSWA's impact over 15 years
  • Thoughts on the future of sustainable winegrowing in CA
Sustainability: One Somm's Learning Curve: January 2018
  • Take aways from judging the Green Medal Award
  • The benefits of sommiliers being well-versed in sustainable winegrowing practices
  • The value of sustainability certification 
  • The benefits of a healty soil ecosystem at Groth Vineyards
  • How soil health improves wine quality
  • Vine balance and the many factors that improve fruit quality

Vineyard Event Raises Funds & Awareness: November 2017

  • California Wine Country is "Open for Business"
  • The wine community shows up in force to support victims of the North Bay wildfires
  • Honoring first responders
  • Philanthropy and perks create positive workplace culture at Talley Vineyards
  • CSA expanded on wine-club concept, remaining produce available for free to employees
  • Weekly winery staff lunch improves communication
  • Positive work culture retains the best talent
  • Charity wine raises money for farmworker assistance
  • Employees appreciate Talley's efforts to help others

Vintners Walk on the Wild Side: September 2017

  • Farming in harmony with wildlife in Ramona, CA
  • Growing up in Oregon commercial fishing family influenced sustainable ethos
  • Animal rescues (ponies, goats, and chickens) contribute to fertilizing the vineyard
  • Insectary provides beneficial insects to combat pests
  • Ranch is National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat
  • Ecological balance on property includes sensitive species Coastal Boa Snake and Golden Eagle

Cakebread's Green Thumb: August 2017

  • Organic garden provides farm-to-table meals
  • Garden integral to promoting wine as part of a healthy lifestyle
  • Biochar and veggie compost fertilize the soil
  • Beneficial insects manage pests
  • Surplus given to employees, visitors can purchase
  • Creates community through pre-harvest employee lunches

Sustainable Choices Pay Off at Monterey Pacific: July 2017

  • Monterey Pacific, Inc., manages more than 12,000 acres
  • Deficit irrigation saves 30-40% of water with red grape varietals; 20-30% with white varietals
  • Biochar working well to boost organic matter in sandy soils
  • Cover crops provide benefits beyond erosion control
  • Employees and their children important part of sustainable practices
  • Size not relevant to sustainable practices; everyone can do it

Master Vigneron Academy Helps Lake County Retain Workers: June 2017

  • Lake County Winegrape Commission invests in vineyard worker education
  • Academy boosts confidence and knowledge of vineyard-crew supervisors
  • Curriculum is 20% classroom, 80% hands-on learning
  • Motivates adoption of new practices
  • Annual program costs: $15,000 to $18,000 
  • Serves as a model for other regions

 Winery Efforts Restore Stream to Good Health: May 2017

  • Housing development turned Spring Creek into a drainage ditch
  • Novak's strong environmental ethic began in 1985
  • Worked with an engineer to bring creek back to life
  • Brought awareness to the community to steward riparian corridors
  • Utilized cost-share with local NRCS
  • Native plantings help prevent sharpshooters from taking hold
  • 2017 Green Medal Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Award: Leader Category
  • "Without our growers, we're nothing."
  • Offer a per-ton bonus to certified growers
  • Source 100% certified grapes by 2019
  • Certified grapes translates to better wine
  • The ultimate commitment; you can't stay stagnant

Winery Innovates with Solar Power Microgrid: March 2017

  • Alpha Omega microgrid launched last year
  • Solar panels' powers goes into batteries and onto the grid
  • No out-of-pocket costs to install
  • Negative interest lease in exchange for tax credits
  • Microgrid powers universal and Tesla charging stations
  • Ride-share program for winery employees

Survey Reveals Wine-Trade Views on Sustainability: February 2017

  • Key take-aways from research
  • Key messages to communicate to trade
  • Obstacles to selling more sustainably produced wine
  • Challenges and opportunities 

New Ways to Save Water: January 2017

  • How Ridge Vineyards is using new technology to save water
  • The evolution of good water management decisions
  • The importance of quantifying water use
  • Water management impacts on wine quality
  • Water management impacts on canopy growth
  • Room for improvement - what the future holds

Winery's Practices Mitigate Risk: December 2016

  • How Rodney Strong Vineyards uses sustainable practices to mitigate risks
  • Major risks vienyards and wineries currently face
  • How to respond to rising energy costs
  • Improving air quality
  • Addressing and planning for drought cycles
  • Minimize employee turnover risk

Winery Finds the Silver Lining: November 2016

  • Learn more about the "triple green canopy" at Silver Moutain
  • Rain capture
  • Environmental roots

No Shortcuts, No Regrets: October 2016

  • HALL Winery acheives LEED certification
  • Sustainability as a segway to LEED certification
  • Benefits of LEED certification
  • Landscapting tips
  • Long-term savings

Family Values: September 2016

  • Wente maintains strong value values after more than a century in business
  • Smooth transitions through 5 generations
  • Succession planning
  • "Farming for the Future"

Historic Winery Thrives on Change: August 2016

  • After 135 year in business, learn how Korbel Champagne Cellars evolves
  • Identifying changes with a big impact
  • Managing water needs
  • Cutting energy use with efficient process water management
  • Packaging efficiencies

Good Neighbor Policy: July 2016

  • Tablas Creek wins 2016 Green Medal Community Award
  • The importance of community engagement
  • Energy efficiency and cost savings
  • Eliminating packaging for the wine club

Owl Whisperer: June 2016

  • Owls for gopher control
  • Challenges of cover crops in drought
  • Cover crop trials
  • Site factors in choosing cover crops

Making Every Drop Count: May 2016

  • Halter Ranch wins 2016 Green Medal Environmental Award
  • Conservation and restoration on the land with wildlife corridors
  • Sap-flow technology to reduce water use
  • Rainwater capture and reuse

Green Medal Leader Announced: April 2016

  • Jackson Family Wines wins 2016 Green Medal Leader Award
  • Solar panels and Tesla Energy batteries
  • Waterless tank sanitation
  • Sustainability makes good business sense

Taking the Macro View: March 2016

  • Incorporating sustainable practices to improve efficiency
  • Recycling at Concannon Winery
  • The impact of sustainable practices on wine quality

Cover Story: February 2016

  • The benefits of using cover crops
  • Challenges of cover crops in drought
  • Cover crop trials
  • Site factors in choosing cover crops

Harvesting Family Values: January 2016

  • The benefits of employee-benefits
  • How to go "above and beyond" for your employees
  • Employee safety
  • Investing in employee well-being is cost-effective

Early Adopter: December 2015

  • The benefits of solar power at Domaine Carneros
  • Challenges of making sparking wines
  • Advice on how to ramp up your recycling effort

Good-Neighbor Grapes: November 2015

  • Investing in your employees
  • How to engage your neighbors
  • Benefits of exploring new technologies and research

Animal Farm: October 2015

  • Pets at the winery
  • Benefits of sheep in the vineyard
  • Learn more about how to maintain a balanced ecosystem
  • How can an insectary contribute to the health of a vineyard?

With Packaging, Less is More: September 2015

  • Conserving the earth's resources to boost profitability
  • Packaging changes to impact your bottom line
  • Consumer perception of packaging decisions
  • Labeling changes with environmental impact
  • Packaging changes for all size operations

Making Every Drop Count: August 2015

  • The biggest impacts on your water use
  • Irrigating more often but for less time
  • Bottom-line implications of reduced water use
  • How does your water use today compare to a decade ago?
  • Moving toward more drought-tolerant rootstocks

Tracking Waste at Fetzer Vineyards: July 2015

  • Can a winery really reduce waste to nothing
  • Where will future improvements come from
  • Waste management practices
  • Advice for colleagues who want to do better in this area
  • The value of the things we throw away

Sustainable Winegrowing Highlight Newsletters

Wine Institute produces a series of newsletters on sustainable winegrowing to highlight specific practices that Wine Institute members find useful in their wineries and vineyards.

Please click on the following newsletter links to learn more about these topics and how the practices are used by vintners and growers throughout California:

The Business Case for Self-Assessment

  • Energy Savings at Palumbo Family Vineyards
  • Irrigation Efficiency at Alexander Valley Vineyards
  • Self-Assessment at Trefethen Family Vineyards
  • Ten New Video Case Studies Available
  • New Down to Earth Book Published

Communicating Sustainability

  • Consumer Buying Decisions Influenced by Sustainably Grown and Made Wine
  • Winery Examples & Communications Tips
  • “Down To Earth” Month Publicity
  • California Legislature Recognized Sustainable Winegrowing

Business and Environmental Benefits of Sustainability

  • Sustainability at Francis Ford Coppola Winery
  • Nutrient Accounting at Terra d'Oro
  • Energy and Cost Savings Go Hand in Hand at Stags' Leap Winery
  • Video Case Studies Show Sustainability in Action

Performance Metrics for Sustainable Winegrowing

  • Energy Efficiency at Vineyard 29
  • Conserving Water at Simi Winery
  • Less is More for Nitrogen Use in Vineyards

The Social Equity of Sustainable Winegrowing

  • California's Wine Community Gives Back
  • Regional Association Philanthropy: The Power of Working Together
  • Making a Difference in Farmworkers' Lives
  • Community Enhancement: Wineries & Growers Preserve Open Space

The Business Case for Sustainable Winegrowing: Pest Management

  • Scouting for Pests at Jordan Vineyard & Winery
  • Weather Station Pays off at Vino Farms
  • The Dollars and Sense of Barn Owls at Bargetto Winery

Third-party Certification Program Launched

  • Certified Participants Share Reasons for Obtaining CSWA Certification
  • Use of Certification Logo and Claims
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Videos Feature Certification and Sustainable Practices

Environmentally Preferred Purchasing

  • Employee Survey Supports Environmentally Preferred Purchasing at Goldeneye Winer
  • Environmentally Preferred Purchasing at Halter Ranch Vineyards
  • Bag-in-Box Technology Reduces Carbon Footprint for Th e Wine Group

Energy Efficiency

  • Benefits of Energy Auditing for Wineries and Vineyards
  • Energy Efficiency at Korbel Champagne Cellars
  • Long Meadow Ranch Saves Energy with Rammed-Earth Winery Strategy

Communicating Sustainability

  • Solar Pavilion Helps Communicate Message of Healthy Winery and Vineyard Operations
  • Neighborhood Meetings, Web Site, Winery Tours and More Communicate Sustainability
  • Sustainable Message Plays Key Role in Consumer Communications

Using Animals to Manage Pests in Vineyards

  • 'Sniffer Dogs' Have a Real Nose For Vine Mealybug
  • Gallo Family Vineyards Turns To Falcons To Ward Off Damaging Starlings
  • Chickens Scratch Their Way Through Bonterra Cutworms

Vineyard Equipment for Sustainable Winegrowing

  • Equipment Selection Helps Expand Sustainable Practices at Robert Young Vineyards
  • New Equipment Is Part of the IPM Strategy at Foster's Wine Estates Americas

2006 Workshops & Water Quality & IPM

  • New Workshops Help California Wineries Expand "Green" Practices
  • Sun-Maid Biodigester Converts Distillery Process Water to Energy Savings
  • IPM and Rodent Control at Schug Carneros Estate

Testimonials & Solar Energy

  • Managing Soil at Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards
  • The "Green Team" Gets Results at the Kunde Estate Winery and Vineyards
  • Expanding Sustainable Practices at Retzlaff Estate

Developing an Action Plan

  • 1980s Sales Growth Initiated Trinchero Sustainable Efforts
  • Developing an Action Plan for Madera Winegrowing

Cover Crops

  • "Organic" Experience Led to "Sustainable" Practices
  • Building the Soil in Mountain Vineyards
  • Natural Ecosystem Prevents Crisis Management

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

  • Fetzer Reduces Waste by 94 Percent
  • Davis Bynum's "Permanent Agriculture"
  • Recycling Part of Healthy Environment at Frog's Leap

Regulated Deficit Irrigation

  • Diageo Introduces RDI Grower Program
  • Conserving Water at Hess Collection
  • Beringer Blass Researches RDI on the Central Coast

Canopy Management

  • Managing Canopy in Windy Conditions at Delicato's San Bernabe
  • Managing Canopy on Orfila's Hillsides
  • Groth's Canopy Management on the Napa Valley Floor

Wildlife Corridors and Habitat

  • Preserving Grasslands and Wetlands at Bronco's Lodi Vineyard
  • Restoring Wine Creek at Quivira Vineyards
  • Conserving Marshland at Viansa Vineyards

Communicating with Neighbors and the Community

  • Wente's Effort for Agriculture in Community Planning
  • Good Neighbor Relations at Woodside Vineyards
  • Vintners Collaborate with Community for Farmworks Housing: Joseph Phelps Donates Land for Shelters

Sustainable Pest Management

  • Managing Pests in Mountain Vineyards at Cooper-Garrod Estate
  • Pest Management in Valley Vineyards at Paul Masson Cellars
  • Preventing Pests in Riparian Areas at Dry Creek Vineyards

Assessing and Reducing Energy Needs

  • Conserving Energy with Night Operations at Golden State Vineyards
  • "Green Building" Saves Energy at Sanford Winery and Vineyards
  • Benziger Audit Helps Improve Energy Efficiency


  • Composting for Wine Quality and Disease Resistance at Shendandoah Vineyards/Sobon Estate
  • Scheid Vineyards Finds Composting Economically Feasible
  • Using Biodynamic Compost at Topolos at Russian River Vineyards

Controlling Erosion

  • Protecting Hillsides and Fish Habitat at Navarro Vineyards
  • Protecting Watershed at Solis Winery through Erosion Control
  • Conserving Soil at Moon Mountain Vineyard

Protecting Air and Water Quality

  • New Biodigester Treats Process Water at Clos du Bois
  • Switching to Biodiesel at Yorkville Cellars
  • Establishing Treatment Wetlands for Process Water at Maurice Car'rie Winery

Attracting and Retaining Good People

  • Honig Vineyard and Winery's Extended Family
  • Family Housing Retains Staff at Roederer Estate
  • Using Education to Keep Staff at Ironstone Vineyards