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  • Writer's pictureAnita Vandyke

Napa Valley – exploring sustainable wineries with Napa Green

Updated: May 25, 2018

When Napa Green asked me to go a winery tour to visit sustainable wineries within the region of Napa Valley, it was an opportunity too good to resist! A day combining two of my favourites; wine and sustainability, what’s not to love?! A what a day it was…

The day started early as we drove off in our hire car to head off to our first appointment at Ehler’s Estate at 10 am. To reduce our environmental impact, my husband and I don’t have a car, we participate in car-share programs or hire a car when we need one. Hiring a car was the perfect choice for today. We packed the car with some zero waste snacks and reusable water bottles and headed off on a road trip.

Napa Valley is approximately a 1.5-2 hour drive from San Francisco, leaving early at 7:30am, we beat the traffic. The drive into Ehler’s Estate was like driving into the Garden of Eden, after a two hour car trip it was a sight for sore eyes. Ehlers Estate vineyard benefits from a unique Old World layout in which the winery building is located in the centre of the contiguous estate vineyard. It was a beautiful stone building and we were greeted by the very friendly Bradley Ward to start our wine-tasting tour.

Over an hour, we learnt so much about the sustainable wine-making practices at Ehler’s Estate. It was great to learn about initiatives such as:

  • 100% certified organic

  • only uses estate grown fruit

  • has its own compost and chickens to prevent waste

  • 100% of the proceeds from the sale of the wines are returned to the LeDucq Foundation to support international cardiovascular research.

After strolling the gardens, sampling their delectable wines and having an insightful discussion with Bradley, I really appreciated how Ehler’s Estate was striving to be responsible stewards of their land. This winery had a great balance of environmentalism, philanthropy and elegance.

We then headed to lunch at the Goose and Gander (recommended by Bradley), and had a delicious meal with locally sourced ingredients. The restaurant was in sunny St Helena and was a beautiful restaurant with great service, cloth napkins and yummy food! Just don’t get forget to ask for “no straws” with their drinks!

The second stop was at St Supery, a sophisticated winery that had a modern and chic layout. With black and white cushioned seats framing the entrance of the tasting building, shiny granite tile floors and a beautiful patio area, we were greeted by the welcoming Melissa Woods, the St Supery Hospitality Manager.

St Supery is a winery that is Napa Green Certified Land and Napa Green Certified Winery, this means that they participate in farm-specific plans that aim to reduce energy, waste and water for an overall goal of pollution reduction. It was so enlightening to see such a profitable and elegant winery embrace sustainable practices such as:

  • using 100% solar panel energy

  • producing all of its own fruits and vegetables for their wines and food menus

  • embracing a totally circular system for growing and composting – no waste here!

After a delicious tasting session combined with cheese, nuts and dried cherries, we walked out with three of our favourite wines! The tour through the wineries and production facility made us realise that the balance of economics and environmentalism is needed to ensure the long term future of sustainable farming. St Supery has this formula down pat!

Our final stop for the day was Honig Wineries. Instead of doing a tasting tour, we had an intimate conversation with Michael Honig, President of Honig Wines. He generously invited us into his home (made from recycled wood) to talk about his passions – wine and sustainability. I was so impressed with Michael’s passion, his motto for his winery is that “man does harm, my job is to minimise that harm.” This motto is embedded in the soul of the winery.

It had amazing sustainable features such as:

  • using light weight wine bottles

  • embracing solar panel energy and saving hundreds of thousands of dollars

  • using electric vehicles

  • using sniffer dogs to help fight against vine mealbugs instead of heavy pesticides

  • accomodating beekeeping facilities to help maintain the natural bee population

We had a small glass of wine after the conversation, and it was delicious! It just shows that environmentalism doesn’t mean compromising taste. All these wineries show that going green actually helps SAVE money and also helps save the planet. Win-win!

Napa Green and Napa Valley Vintners provided the perfect day out! Napa Green represents a soil-to-bottle approach to environmental stewardship and winemaking, integrating holistic management practices at every step of the process. It is the future for sustainable farming and I was honoured to be able to share this journey with them. I couldn’t recommend them enough!

For more information, check out their website here.

Summary of itinerary

10:00 a.m. Ehlers Estate, 3222 Ehlers Ln, St. Helena, CA 94574

11:45 a.m. lunch at Goose and Gander

1:00 p.m. St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery, 8440 St. Helena Hwy, Rutherford, CA 94573

3:00 p.m. Honig Vineyard & Winery, 850 Rutherford Rd, Rutherford, CA 94573

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