And you keep bees as well. How is the honey?
The hives are in various parts of the garden, and we don’t really do it for honey. It’s more for fertilizing the blooming plants on the property. My dad has tried collecting the honey a couple of times, but it’s full of honeycomb. It would need some work before we could sell it.
It sounds like your dad has really caught the gardening bug. Do you see a relationship between the garden and your practices as a CERTIFIED SUSTAINABLE winery?
My dad started with a card table at the Healdsburg Farmers Market, selling our estate olive oil, and now he has three eight-foot tables. He just loves to garden. He’s known at the market for his lettuces and his corn. He doesn’t make any money. In fact, he says it’s one of the most expensive hobbies you can have, but I love having the diversity on the property. We have a separate garden just for employees, and they can take whatever they want.
We also help the Alexander Valley School maintain the student garden. My daughter goes to the school, and gardening is her favorite class. Like the other families, we make sure things stay watered in summer. In addition, we donate about 100 pounds of cardboard for mulching, and we pay our vineyard staff to maintain the school’s grounds. It is a great way to get the next generation interested in sustainability.
You have written that you find it pretty easy to operate sustainably, but surely there have been hurdles?
The challenge of sustainable certification is that you’re expected to meet your goals and then improve on them. It can be difficult to constantly improve within a time frame. We have a new production area and I want to get solar panels on that. We’re looking at better options in packaging materials.
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