Sustainable Farming At Benovia
We're fortunate to live, farm, and make wine in Sonoma County
where natural beauty and agricultural diversity make it hard not to
be environmentally conscious. But it takes more than luck to keep
it that way.
"We practice sustainable farming," says our vineyard manager Chris
Kangas, "and that means we are environmentally sensitive and
socially responsible when it comes to grape growing."
Benovia farms more than 71 acres of vineyards on three incredible
sites within Sonoma County. Fifty of those acres were planted in
the last three years. With vineyard development behind us, we've
turned our attention to the responsibility that comes with being
stewards of the land. Leading Benovia's sustainable farming
program, Chris is well aware of the old axiom that great wines can
only come from great vineyards. At the same time, he understands
that farming practices have a huge impact on the future -- even for
a winery the size of Benovia.
"We embrace our role as custodians of the land and look to
integrate environmentally sensitive practices with all aspects of
our wine growing," says Chris.
Benovia Winery owners Joe Anderson, Mary Dewane and Mike
Sullivan embrace the concept of sustainable farming at all our
vineyards, and take it a step further at the historic Cohn
Vineyard. First planted in 1970, Cohn Vineyard is farmed
organically, without the use of any herbicides or pesticides.
By farming with integrity and sensitivity to the environment,
Benovia is expressing its responsibility to its neighbors, as well
as future generations. It's also a commitment to our customers, who
care about how grapes are grown, where their wine comes from, and
how it's made.
Benovia recently took our sustainability commitment to an even
higher level when we installed 171 photovoltaic modules atop
our winery. The solar panels produce some 60,000 kilowatt hours of
electricity a year -- about 90% of all the energy we need to power
Benovia Winery's operations.
Besides dramatically shrinking our PG&E bill, it's estimated
our solar panels will reduce CO2 emissions by 1180 tons over 25
years -- that's the environmental equivalent of more than 20 acres
of planted trees.
Highlights of Benovia Winery's sustainable farming
- Horticulture - We are farming Cohn Vineyard organically and we
are seeking CCOF organic certification.
- Composting - We use organic mulch and fertilizer for improving
soil health and building organic matter.
- Cover Crops - Each fall we seed our vineyard rows to prevent
erosion and improve soil structure.
- Soil Management - We match rootstock with varietals to prevent
soil nutrient depletion, and we use no-till farming to retain
carbon and avoid soil compaction.
- Beneficial Insects - We encourage the presence of beneficial
insects to prey on vineyard pests.
- Owl Boxes and Raptor Roosts - We have erected 10 owl boxes to
encourage native barn owl populations as predators for gophers and
- Water Conservation/Dry Farming Techniques - Careful irrigation
practices allow us to control vineyard canopies which ensure small
berries and concentrated flavors that yield the highest quality
fruit. We allow for many vineyard blocks to be nearly dry-farmed as
part of our efforts to conserve water.
- Erosion Control - Each fall we "winterize" our vineyards to
prevent erosion. This involves the use of cover crops, straw
mulching, installation of water bars on roads, and maintenance of
- Frost Protection - We use wind machines instead of water, a
dwindling natural resource, to ward off frost.