Posted on Categories WaterTags , ,

Up to 96,000 gallons of wine spills at Rodney Strong Vineyards, most leaks into Russian River

Yousef Baig & Chantelle Lee, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The Russian River flowed with a cherry red tint Wednesday after tens of thousands of gallons of fresh cabernet sauvignon wine poured into the largest tributary in Sonoma County.

The wine — enough to fill more than 500,000 bottles — spilled from a Rodney Strong Vineyards’ storage tank at the Healdsburg winery, made its way into Reiman Creek running through the property and drained into the river.

It’s likely the biggest wine spill in county history, but certainly in the past 20 years, said Don McEnhill, executive director of nonprofit Russian Riverkeeper, noting he couldn’t recall gallons of this magnitude reaching the river.

A roughly two-foot oval door near the bottom of a 100,000-gallon Rodney Strong blending tank somehow popped open about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday and spilled from 46,000 to 96,000 gallons of wine, officials with the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services said Thursday.

Local and state water quality and fish and wildlife officials are investigating to determine any negative effects to the river ecosystem and whether the winery violated water quality rules. Investigators with the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board and California Department of Fish and Wildlife were on-site Thursday to determine the extent of environmental damage.


Posted on Categories Agriculture/Food System, Sustainable Living, WaterTags , , , , Leave a comment on Weaning vines off water

Weaning vines off water

John Williams, the visionary Frog’s Leap winery owner from Rutherford in the Napa Valley, was the most logical go-to person when an idle comment from a shop owner suggested that the wine industry could face water-shortage problems very soon.
Williams, ever his contentious self on the topic of vine irrigation, is a walking encyclopedia on the subject of water use in vineyards. But his opening line when I called him last week to speak of water use in vineyards, though typical of his philosophy, was still a bit of a shock: “We [in Napa] are drawing 1.2 billion gallons of water and putting it on vines that don’t really need it,” he said.
It’s important to know that Frog’s Leap is one of the most vocal advocates of organic farming. Williams is a firm believer in dry-farming of vines to make better wines.
Williams believes that the best wines are made from vines with deep roots and that by irrigating as routinely as they do, the majority of Napa growers are feeding the vine a drug (water) — and there is no methadone solution.
“The entire valley was dry-farmed for 100 years until 1976, when the first drip irrigation systems were installed,” Williams said. “When the vines have easy access to water, they do not have to push their roots down very far.”
He says that shallow root systems lead to fruit that’s lacking in flavors until later in the season. And a result of that is that growers pick later than they would need to if they were set up to be dry-farmed. As it is today, the broad use of irrigation leads to alcohol levels that are higher than they should be, he said.
Read more via Berger: Weaning vines off water | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Agriculture/Food System, Land Use, Local Organizations, Sustainable LivingTags , , Leave a comment on Whole Foods wine buyer urges Sonoma growers to push sustainability

Whole Foods wine buyer urges Sonoma growers to push sustainability

Related story: Sonoma County Winegrowers develop 100-year plan to protect agriculture
The top wine buyer for Whole Foods Market on Thursday lauded the effort by Sonoma County growers to make the county’s grape crop 100 percent sustainable before the end of the decade, but cautioned it will be a difficult task to get a national standard that will embraced by wine consumers.
Doug Bell, Whole Foods Market’s global beverage buyer, told the Sonoma County Winegrowers at its annual meeting that he backs its efforts to create the nation’s first 100 percent sustainable wine growing region by 2019. To qualify, growers must be certified in numerous areas such as water and air quality, pest management, carbon emissions and even employment practices.
However, Bell noted that the county’s growers must drive the effort — and the conversation — so it will be reflected in the national marketplace, from the supermarket shelf to the local bistro’s wine list.
“If you guys depend on Whole Foods to solely tell your message, we’re going to fail. We can’t do it by ourself,” Bell said. “We will never move the needle until these environmentally and socially conscious practices are touted in the labeling and the messaging.”
Read more via Whole Foods wine buyer urges Sonoma growers to | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Agriculture/Food System, WaterTags , , , Leave a comment on Water used to make wine becomes issue during drought

Water used to make wine becomes issue during drought

If you have one of those “Save Water Drink Wine” bumper stickers on your car, you might want to rip it off.
And not only because the wit is so lame.
The advice is erroneous. In this time of drought, a bumper sticker urging fellow motorists to “Save Water Drink Water” makes more sense.
After all, 29 gallons of water were used to produce that glass of cabernet sauvignon you look forward to drinking with tonight’s dinner.
That, at least, is the calculation of the Water Footprint Network, a nonprofit foundation in the Netherlands that advocates for more sustainable, efficient and fair ways to use water.
Read more via Dunne on Wine: Water used to make wine becomes issue during drought – Mike Dunne – The Sacramento Bee.

Posted on Categories ForestsTags , , , , , Leave a comment on Activists protest Preservation Ranch at Sonoma County Board of Supervisors meeting

Activists protest Preservation Ranch at Sonoma County Board of Supervisors meeting

By Cathy Bussewitz, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Dozens of environmental activists adorned with branches and dressed like fluffy redwood trees demonstrated outside the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday to protest a proposal to convert nearly 1,800 acres of coastal forests to vineyards.
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Preservation Ranch Protest
A man costumed as an eight-foot tall bottle of “Pinot Egrigio” labeled “Chainsaw Wine” wielded a fake chainsaw before the animated trees.
“It’s a Sonoma County vintage,” said Dave Jordan, volunteer with Friends of Gualala River, a group that carpooled down from Gualala to Santa Rosa to attend the meeting. “It’s not against wine. It’s not against vineyards. It’s about cutting down redwood forests to plant grapes.”
via Activists protest Preservation Ranch at Sonoma County Board of Supervisors meeting |