Everybody’s going “green” these days, from cosmetics to construction materials, and the wine world is no exception.
It was not uncommon 10 years ago to see the vineyard shed filled with an array of toxic chemicals used to prevent problems in vine growing — mildew, weeds, disease and pesky insects. But today many growers are addressing concerns in farming practices and the environment while taking a back-to-basics approach.
This renewed commitment to the earth isn’t a challenge to those who believe quality, clean fruit makes the best wine.
Fred Cline and Bob Cannard, co-founders of Green String Farm, believe sustainability in farming is the healthy, local and socially responsible way to be “green.”
On a recent trip to California’s Sonoma Valley I had the opportunity to talk with Cline and Cannard about their approach.
Cline is the owner of Cline Cellars and Jacuzzi Family Vineyards. Cannard is a smallscale farmer and organic farming teacher. He is also the sole purveyor for produce for Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley, Calif. Since 2000, they have been growing the Green String way — naturally and sustainably — while avoiding chemical pesticides, fertilizers and fungicides.
“The past has been agriculture for people and none for nature,” Cannard says of the way grapes have been farmed. “Our adversity with nature needs to be set aside.
“Bugs in a vineyard are not pests; they simply show us the vines are healthy.”
He is not just offering advice to the industry. He and Cline are living and breathing their philosophy each day in their growing practices.
Their main goal is retaining healthy vines while planting organic cover crops, using “compost tea” irrigation (molasses, fish emulsion and other nutrients), sheep grazing for weed control and insect predators to act as pesticides.
So far, few farmers have joined this approach, but Green String may be the future’s benchmark model of green growing. And as more consumers seek truly organically grown food, the wine industry will continue to evolve.
- 2007 Cline Pinot Grigio, California (about $12 retail)
- 2006 Cline Sonoma Zinfandel, California (about $12 retail)
- 2007 Cline Cashmere, California (about $20 retail)
- 2007 Cline Marsanne Roussane, California (about $20 retail)
- 2007 Cline Ancient Vines Carignane, California (about $20 retail)
- 2006 Cline Cool Climate Syrah, California (about $20 retail)