Three Sustainable Wineries in Mendocino, Valle de Guadalupe and Napa | Alximia, Hagafen and Fetzer-Bonterra

View from the second floor of Alximia Winery | Valle de Guadalupe

Happy Earth Day! We should all be practicing a more sustainable lifestyle in order to make this earth a better place and reduce our carbon foot print. Recently more and more wineries and wine growers have begun to adapt to a more sustainable practice. Many ask what is organic, sustainable and biodynamic standards and do they exist? 

What is sustainability? What is Organic? What is Biodynamic? These words have become more common and the practices of it have increased. The definition of these three words by text can be lengthy and complex. These three elements can also overlap each other, but meaning all different things. In summary, they all are farming and winemaking practices among wineries and wine growers where the expression of grapes is in harmony with its soil to maintain a balanced ecosystem that allows nature to take its course. This includes the reduction of fertilizers etc……. WHAT???!!! This means that wineries and growers may practice conservation of water and energy, maintain healthy soils, protect air and water quality, and preserve local ecosystems and wildlife habitat. This is just a very basic definition and of course, Sustainability, Organic and Biodynamic all mean different things and I’m not an expert. However, you can click HERE and HERE for more information on the differences between these practices. In honor of Earth Day, I’ll be talking about Alximia Winery in Valle de Guadalupe Mexico and Fetzer-Bonterra Vineyards in Mendocino County, and Hagafen Cellars in Napa Valley, three wineries who are now reducing their carbon foot print and using sustainable and biodymanic winemaking practices.

Valle De Guadalupe | Alximia Winery

View from the second floor of Alximia Winery | Valle de Guadalupe

Alximia was built by mathematician, Alvaro Alvarez, who turned winemaker with his astronomer father, who wanted to develop wines that were delicious while minimizing their environmental impact.  Alximia opened in 2013 and is currently producing seven varietals that are organically fertilized, Petit Verdot, Zinfandel, Tempranillo, Barbera, Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. The architecture of the winery was build with the idea of preserving nature while incorporating the four natural elements during the winemaking process. It’s structure resembles a “spaceship”, which was built to reuse scarce water from the top of the circular dome like roof of the winery.  

As you can see in the picture below, the entrance to Alximia's winery is on the second floor, which brings fluidity to their winemaking process. Their grapes are brought to the third floor for selection and de-stemming, which are carefully brought down as gravity draws them to the second floor through a circular vent for the fermentation process. Finally, They are gently taken to the bottom floor to the cave where they are placed in French oak barrels for aging and then bottling.

The full article with more pictures on Alximia Winery will be up next week!  Click HERE for more information on Alximia’s Sustainable practices. 

To read more about Mexico Wineries, Click Below!

Mendocino Country | Fetzer-Bonterra Vineyards

Fetzer- Bonterra Vineyards | Mendocino County

This year, Fetzer-Bonetrra is celebrating its 50th year anniversary and their 100% organic farm dates back 30 years. I had the honor of attending the 50th dinner celebration with Fetzer-Bonterra at Campovida Winery during the Wine Bloggers Conference last Year. During this event we explored the vineyards and their sustainable winemaking practices, along with a perfect ending with a winemaker dinner.

Bonterra is a certified Biodynamic farm and is currently the leading U.S wine from organically grown grapes with three certified biodynamic-focused farms (organic certified), Blue Heron, McNab and Butler. These vineyards are reviewed annually to ensure that each adheres to the Demeter Farm Standard. Fetzer-Bonterra biodynamic farming practice focus on a harmonious balance between their soils, water, plants, animals and human interactions. Their soils are composed of nutrients that come from the farm and the use of the moon’s gravitational pull, enhancing their soil moisture, all while using the lunar calendar to be in harmony with cosmic events. Their plants are fertilized with natural fertilizers, minerals and compost. They also use sheep, birds, chickens and beneficial insects to assist the plants to be self sufficient. In addition, all the food they prepare is locally sourced or from their farm. Click HERE for more information of Fetzer-Bonterra Biodynamic Vineyards.

Hagafen Cellars | Napa

Hagafen | Napa | Photo by Erika Beach

Hagafen | Napa | Photo by Erika Beach

Hagafen Cellars is a little hidden gem located on the Silverado Trail in Napa Valley, California. I visited this winery on Christmas Day and is one of two wineries open on this holiday. Hagafen Cellars is the cutest winery that is Napa Green certified. Hagafen Cellars is reducing its carbon foot print by using solar power, sustainable farming, and the winery is made with recycled products. The winemaker and owner, Ernie Weir, said the following:

“I interfere as little as possible with the soil in order to create a balance that minimizes the chemical and erosion impact. As a sustainable Green Winery, we respect the time-honored values of conservation and land stewardship while still embracing innovative practices. Once harvest is complete, I undertake the second part of my job : winemaking. Each year this presents an interesting challenge, as each year the growing season and harvest are unique and different. I never seek to change what Nature has provided. My goal is to showcase the best that our land has produced.”

“Passion, soul, and enjoyment—without all three, you do not have a fine wine.” - Ernie Weir

We have a long way to go when it comes to  sustainable winemaking and wine growing practices. However, more and more wineries and wine growers are adjusting their practices and being more earth conscious.  This is just the beginning on making a difference on this earth little by little. What are you doing to reduce your carbon foot print? Let me know in the comments below! Thank you for stopping by!!! 

With Love |  xoxo Erika Beach

A special Thank you to Ensenada Tourism, Mendocino Wine Growers, Fetter-Bonterra and Alximia Winery for Sponsoring my Visits.

*** All photography by me, Erika Beach