A Far-Reaching Definition of ‘Sustainability’

You can’t venture very far in any direction in my house without encountering some sort of nod to wine. The house is not a wine shrine… but it’s close.

In the guest bathroom just off the living room, for instance, one encounters a pair of humorous posters from the Sonoma County winery, Gundlach-Bundschu.

One depicts a blind-folded man, accompanied by these words: “Blind tastings are fine, but when you’re down to your last request, it’s got to be Gundlach-Bundschu.” The other poster features a big group picture of winery staff members and their families, most of whom are holding up two fingers. “Just two bottles a day,” the poster declares. “That’s all we ask.”

While Gundlach-Bundschu approaches the marketing of wine with tongue planted firmly in cheek, it takes the making of wine very seriously. That, of course, extends to growing the grapes and virtually all other aspects of the business. “Sustainability” is defined quite broadly.

The winery seeks not only to be a responsible steward of the land, but also to preserve the land for future generations of its family. There is nothing static about this view of sustainability; it requires innovation and action. The family believes that preserving the unique ecosystem of Rhinefarm is essential to wine quality, as well as to the health of the family and business.

The introduction of beneficial predators—from owls and bluebirds to beetles and mites—and intensive pest monitoring allows GB to minimize the use of pesticides and herbicides. Cover crops contribute vital diversity and nutrition to the soils, and registered organic compounds and practices are used whenever possible.

Vigilant management of the acute deficit irrigation program and water reclamation ponds promotes conservation, recycling 70% of winery water.

In November 2008, two new solar arrays were installed on the property. The first, a 1.3-acre 80kw system, now provides 60% of the winery’s power. The second, a “floatovoltaic” system, is the first of its kind in Sonoma County. The panels float on the estate’s ponds, and provide 100% of the power to the water reclamation system.

In June 2009, Gundlach Bundschu received certification as a Bay Area Green Business from Sonoma County. In 2012, it received its Fish Friendly Farming certification.

All of these efforts contribute to wine quality, and bringing products to market that consumers can feel good about.

Posted in Wine and the Environment
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