Being the fourth generation of our family to farm this land makes us all the more conscious of our responsibility to it. To minimize our impact on the environment, we farm sustainably. This extra attention to detail not only makes for healthy grapes and soil, but it also makes for a healthy biodiversity in the vineyards, where we see countless rabbits, coyotes, owls, and hawks who also call this place home. In addition to working the vineyard around our ranch—located in the Clarksburg AVA—we also source our grapes from local growers in four other appellations: Lodi, Dunnigan Hills, the North Coast and the Sta. Rita Hills. We’ve enjoyed personal relationships with our partners for well over a decade, walking the vineyards together, tasting the grapes during the growing season, and selecting only the finest. We harvest by hand at the peak of ripeness to achieve the optimal foundation for our wines.
Our close relationships with partner-growers have allowed us to tailor vineyard management to exact specifications. Cover crops are mowed during the growing season to help manage the moisture levels in the soil. All vineyard work, from pruning to harvest, is done entirely by hand. Each vine is prune and debudded to two buds per spur, which helps us reduce yields, add rigor to the vine, and produce top quality wines. This makes it possible to avoid crop thinning all together. Yields average approximately three tons per acre.
Sustainable farming is the best way we can think of to keep our land vibrant for generations to come. By finding the right balance in the vineyards, our soils are alive and rich in nutrients. We have a thriving and diverse ecosystem–from ladybugs and earthworms in the soil to the rich wildlife that roams the ranch–and the quality of our fruit is just the way we want it. Our partner-growers also embrace this philosophy, and take their responsibly as stewards of the land as seriously as we do. For us, sustainablity is a way of life that considers every living being on the farm.
To best achieve the balance we seek, we eschew the use of pesticides entirely and keep the use of herbicides to a bare minimum. Rather than dusting with copper sulfate to prevent against rot and mildew (as most growers do), we work with micronized sulfur, which allows us to use targeted treatments only when absolutely necessary. In the cellar, we recycle all used grape must, discarded stems, and old lees into compost, which serve as a natural and nutrient-rich fertilizer for the vines. In addition, we also mulch our vine cuttings and incorporate them back into the soil. To conserve on fossil fuels and best protect the vines, our crop is entirely harvested by hand. Timed drip irrigation reduces the amount of water needed for the vineyards–an essential contribution in California’s on-going water crisis. To further reduce our footprint, we installed solar panels at the ranch, which power the entire winery. While we are proud of the work we have done, we are constantly aiming higher with each passing year, ever-passionate about finding new ways to improve!
The delta of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers converges into rich agricultural land, creating over 70 small islands and estuaries, among them our home ranch on Andrus Island. The microclimate of the Delta makes grape growing here ideal. During the summer months, the Central Valley heats up, drawing the cool breezes in from the Pacific Ocean, through San Francisco Bay, over the Coastal Range and into the Delta. These diurnal breezes cool the grapes, helping them retain their natural acidity and freshness. While grapes grow wild in the Delta, it hasn’t been until the last century that grape cultivation has taken flight. As mass-production still dominates the market, we are proud to be counted among the select few family-owned and operated wineries.
As active Delta farmers, we are committed to preserving the land. That is why we support Restore the Delta, a grassroots organization that is working to restoring the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the Bay-Delta estuary. To give or to find out how you can help, we encourage you to visit their website at www.restorethedelta.org.