Saturday, January 17, 2009

Wine to gladden the human heart

Any discussion of wine and the spirit must, in this day, account for the impact of winemaking on our global environment. How we care for this earth is a spiritual issue, and how we cultivate the earth says much about our faith: 

"You cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and the plants for people to use, to bring forth food from the earth, and wine to gladden the human heart." (Psalm 104:15).

A few California winemakers are taking that responsibility to heart by pioneering new techniques that are environmentally friendly. They are even making some pretty good wine.

Let me highlight two such wineries in Mendocino County. For many years I have been much impressed by Bonterra Vineyards, both the reds and the whites.  Bonterra has practiced organic farming without pesticides or chemical-based fertilizers and won accolades for making not just great wine but showing others how to create environmentally sustainable vineyards

Bonterra's cabernet sauvignon is particularly lush with berry and cherry flavors and enough tanin, or acid, to allow the bottles to age quite nicely, and we have laid down a few bottles over the years. Winemaker Robert Blue has proven he can make good wine and practice good environmentally sensitive agriculture. The photo at the top is from one of Bonterra's vineyards, showing the grasses and flowers planted between the rows that helps replenish the soil.

Parducci is a legendary winery in California; for years Parducci supplied Trader Joe's with good inexpensive second-label wines. Parducci, now under the name Mendocino Wine Co., was acquired by Paul Dolan and Tom, Tim and Tommy Thornhill, and they are taking enviro-friendly winemaking to new levels. They put vegetable fuel in their tractors and use wind and solar power for electricity. You can read about their sustainable agricultural practices HERE.

The other night I shared with friends a bottle of Parducci's 2005 Sustainable Red and it was terrific. I have no idea what grapes were in it, but it had overtones of a Rhone wine with the smoothness of good merlot (and, yes, there are good merlots out there). I enjoyed it immensely, and the pleasure was enhanced by the price ($10) and the knowledge that this winery is sensitive to the earth.


  1. Dear James,

    Thank you for shedding light on this important subject and noting the good work we do here at Parducci.

    I thought you would appreciate the break down of the blend for the 2005 Sustainable Red.
    31% MERLOT
    23% SYRAH

    Please stop by the next time you are in Mendocino County.

  2. Thanks much for your comment and all you do! And there was merlot in there!