For Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards’s all-female wine production team, Earth Day is every day.
“We have a holistic way of looking at sustainability,” says Zidanelia Arcidiacono, Pinot Noir winemaker for Sonoma-Cutrer.
Arcidiacono not only makes the winery’s award-winning Pinot Noir, but she also is in charge of the winery’s sustainability program. This Sonoma winery not only produces “certified sustainable” labeled wines, but it also boasts a sustainability team that is comprised of workers from all of the winery’s departments, from winemaking to tasting room to landscaping.
“One of my first initiatives when I came on board in 2016 was to get our winery certified,” says Arcidiacono. “Our vineyards were certified, but the winery was not, and we wanted to make sure our whole facility was certified”
The Sustainability Environmental Team – aka, the “Green Team” – meets regularly to comb through all of the winery and vineyard’s processes to see if there are ways to make them more sustainable.
One of their more recent initiatives was installing specially-made owl boxes across all of the vineyards. These boxes provide homes for these nocturnal birds who naturally provide a defense against gophers and voles who eat vines. The winery leaves grass cuttings behind to protect the moisture in the grass, and the sustainability team recently did a presentation on it. “We had people come back and say they’re now doing that at home,” she says. “They said ‘Hey, now I have better grass, and I’m reducing my water bill.’”
The workers at this winery, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, plant pheromone lures the attract and confuse pests so that they can’t reproduce, which is a humane way of reducing the insect population to protect the grapes. They also harvest grapes early in the morning which both protects employees from the heat, but the grapes come into the processing area of the winery, already chilled, which reduces the amount of energy needed.
MORE FOR YOU
The ideas and projects for sustainability aren’t generated at the top and then trickle down to the workers. Instead, the workers collaborate and generate the ideas, which are then presented to the winery’s leadership, she says. “We make the recommendations and set the goals,” Arcidiacono says.
Besides continuing to work on things like purchasing – to make sure that the vendors they work with are also practicing sustainability, right now one of Sonoma-Cutrer’s biggest environmental objectives is to reduce the waste of water. “Water is so valuable here in California,” she says. “We’re doing audits (of water usage), and we are working on how to rescue water. We are also trialing ozone in order to reduce the amount of water being used.”
One of the winery’s goals is to reach zero-waste, she says. “In order to get to that zero rate, we are improving our tracking process, and we are doing audits to make sure we are (doing) what we said we were,” she says.
When people visit the vineyard, they’re usually intrigued by the winery’s sustainable initiatives. “It’s becoming a very interactive subject,” she says.