Sustainable Vineyard and Winegrowing Practices
Wente Family Estates is committed to the application, in principle and practice, of sustainable agriculture in the vineyard and sustainable practices in the overall community. Over the long term, sustainable winegrowing:
- Enhances environmental quality and the resource base on which agriculture depends
- Makes the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resources. It integrates, when appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls
- Is economically viable while using recognized best practices
- Enhances the quality of life for farmers, workers, and society as a whole
Each year, cover crops and pomace compost are incorporated into vineyard management in the late fall and early spring to increase the level of organic matter in the soil and improve the soil’s tilth and water holding capacity. For more than 10 years, recycled, organic hydrolyzed fertilizer has been distributed through a drip irrigation system, eliminating the need for application by tractor. This results in less soil compaction and diesel combustion. The organic matter contains many strains of microbes, both bacterial and fungal, creating soils that are self-nourishing.
Reducing Water Usage
Wente Family Estates predominantly uses drip irrigation to deliver the optimal amount of water to the vines at the most advantageous time. By using temperature and humidity data provided by on-site weather stations, and using UC Davis-developed mildew pressure models, the team knows when and where to spray, if at all, and chooses materials that are environmentally sound.
Using Natural Oils
Wente Family Estates was one of the earliest growers to work with stylet oil, a combination of natural oils that smothers powdery mildew. Under Karl’s leadership, Wente Family Estates has also experimented with other combinations of essential oils, predominantly clove, black pepper, and cinnamon to control pests.
Wente Family Estates encourages the growth of native grasses and beneficial broadleaf species. By maintaining an ecological balance in the vineyards, pests are naturally controlled. In 2000, Wente Vineyards was awarded the Integrated Pest Management Innovators Award by the California Environmental Protection Agency.
Sustainable practices include converting kitchen waste to biodiesel fuel by recycling oils from The Grill, The Restaurant and the Catering kitchen, as well as other local restaurant kitchens in the community. Wente Family Estates is currently exploring the conversion of its vineyard fleet to B20 (20% Biodiesel).