April is the time to celebrate all things green during the seventh annual California Wines Down to Earth Month. Created by Wine Institute, the association of nearly 1,000 California wineries and affiliated businesses, the month celebrates the wine community’s commitment to the environment with sustainability-focused winery events and offers throughout the state.
Down to Earth Month engages consumers, policy leaders, media and the wine trade with eco-friendly events, such as Earth Day festivals, vineyard hikes, food & wine festivals, eco-tours and more.
“Down to Earth Month events are one of the many ways our wineries provide experiences for visitors to learn why California leads in sustainable winegrowing,” says Robert P. (Bobby) Koch, President and CEO of Wine Institute. “This year’s celebration also marks the first time that some of our wine will bear the new California Certified Sustainable logo when made in a certified winery with at least 85% of the grapes from certified vineyards.”
California is a global leader in sustainable winegrowing practices in terms of wine acreage and case production. As of November 2017, 127 wineries producing over 74% (211 million cases) of California’s total wine production and 1099 vineyards farming 134,000 acres (22% of statewide wine acreage) are CERTIFIED SUSTAINABLE.
Nearly two dozen events are happening throughout California in April with new ones being added daily here. Region-wide events include:
Signature Sonoma Valley, April 6-8, Sonoma: Experience an intimate and exclusive deep dive into the wines, terroir and people of Sonoma Valley’s historic wine region. Enjoy vineyard explorations, iconic wine tastings, designer meals and vintner talks in Sonoma Valley, part of Sonoma County, a region committed to 100% sustainability by the year 2019.
Taste of Mendocino, April 7, San Francisco: More than 30 Mendocino wineries will be bringing their best wines, and local artisanal food producers will be serving up delicious bites to complement the wines at Fort Mason in San Francisco. A gourmet marketplace, Taste of Mendocino attendees will be able to purchase products from participating wineries and food producers. Mendocino County has a high enrollment of green certifications for sustainable, organic, biodynamic and Fish Friendly farming.
April Passport Celebration Day, April 21, Santa Cruz: The wine growing community of the Santa Cruz Mountains will come together on Passport Celebration Day to celebrate the generations of farmers, vintners and families that are the roots of this wine region. Fifty-plus tasting rooms throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains are each offering a unique winery experience, including organic and sustainable wines.
36th Annual Santa Barbara Vintners Festival, April 21, Lompoc: Taste wines from over 100 wineries and gourmet food from 30 regional restaurants. Enjoy live music and live cooking demonstrations. Many growers use sustainable practices, allowing the natural quality of the grapes to flourish. Enjoy the rare opportunity to taste an exceptional number of wines in Santa Barbara County.
50th Anniversary of the Agricultural Preserve, April 21, Rutherford: In 1968, Napa Valley Vintners and others in the community preserved open space by enacting the nation’s first Agriculture Preserve. The 2018 year marks the 50th anniversary of this ordinance establishing agriculture and open space as the best use of land for Napa County. To honor this milestone, Alpha Omega’s winemaker Jean Hoefliger will lead a tour and tasting on April 21 at historic Beckstoffer Georges III Vineyard in Rutherford, where 181 acres were placed under a land conservation easement that forever prohibits non-agriculture development. The Alpha Omega Foundation will donate 100 percent of tickets sold to local nonprofits.
27th Annual El Dorado Wine Region Passport Wine Adventure, April 21-29, Placerville: Take a beautiful drive to El Dorado Wine Region in the Sierra Foothills for exclusive hospitality at 22 wineries participating in the Annual Passport Weekends, April 21-22 & 28-29. Sustainable, organic and biodynamic practices are reflected in the wines such as those from Lava Cap Winery and Shadow Ranch Vineyard.
Earth Day Napa, April 22, Napa: Featuring exhibits, food, live entertainment, kids’ activities and wine at Oxbow Commons. Presented by Environmental Education Coalition of Napa County.
Stags Leap District Wineries: Vineyard to Vintner, April 27-29, Yountville: Visit winery open houses with special access to owners and winemakers. Enjoy caves, cellars, barrel tastings, dinners by celebrated chefs. Committed to its community, the association is donating 5 percent of open house tickets to the Napa Valley Community Foundation.
Passport to Dry Creek Valley, April 27-29, Healdsburg: One of Sonoma Wine Country’s premier wine & food festivals featuring 40-plus wineries. Tastings, food and wine pairings, and a vineyard tour highlighting how sustainability operates in the vineyards.
California Sustainable Winegrowing
The California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA), a 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit organization established by Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers more than a decade ago, received the governor’s top environmental award for increasing adoption of sustainable winegrowing practices in California and for initiating new educational tools and program improvements. CSWA now has 2,100 vineyards and wineries as program participants. To learn more, visit: www.discovercaliforniawines.com/sustainable-winegrowing.
Wineries and vineyards around the state have taken an extra step by earning Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing status through the third-party certification program launched by CSWA. Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing and other statewide and regional programs such as Bay Area Green Business Program, Fish Friendly Farming, Lodi Rules, Napa Green and Sustainability in Practice (SIP) play vital roles in the California wine community’s successful efforts to produce high quality wine that is environmentally sound, economically feasible and socially responsible.