Just about any farmer, gardener, landscaper or groundskeeper will tell you the health of the plant is directly related to the health of the soil. They will also tell you that a “living” soil is a healthy soil. As stewards of a number of remarkable vineyards throughout Sonoma County, we embrace our responsibility to preserve and sustain the natural ecosystems of each of our sites. In addition to the obvious environmental benefits, sustainable farming techniques yield wines that are more complex, better balanced and more reflective of the terroir from which they came.
Sebastiani Vineyards has been an important part of the Sonoma County community for more than 100 years. We have been long-term practitioners of sustainable farming methods. Today we work with the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance to ensure all aspects of our business are sustainable and gentle on the environment.
One of our primary goals is to keep our vineyard soils as rich as possible in microorganisms. To achieve this we have instituted a number of farming protocols tailored to each of our unique sites.
For nearly all pest and fertilization situations we are able to utilize natural methods and applications to solve a problem or accentuate a positive circumstance. Non-natural controls are administered rarely and only as a last resort.
We avoid tilling our land to prevent topsoil erosion, and to reduce organic matter breakdown. This allows drainage by infiltration rather than surface runoff.
Compost is added to the soils to help retain moisture and improve water circulation. Natural fertilizers are used to help add life to the soils, supplying bacteria, phytonutrients and trace elements. Leaf tissue analysis is used to help amend soils and bring soils back into balance.
By cultivating a number of diverse cover crops we are able to provide a habitat for indigenous insects and microbes. Throughout the growing season these plants add organic material back into the soils and help absorb excess water in the vineyard.
Preservation of Native Plants
All native plants and grasses along waterways and vineyard margins are left untouched to encourage populations of beneficial insects. Ancient Oaks and other large trees are preserved. Non-indigenous plants that harbor harmful grapevine pests are removed.
Weed and Mildew Management
Because we preserve the natural habitat we are blessed with a healthy population of beneficial insects that keep the population of harmful insects to a minimum. We do not use pesticides. Spray calibrations are closely monitored and employees are trained extensively on the safety, proper application and disposal of all chemicals. This in turn helps maintain populations of beneficial insects in our vineyards. Grape vines are susceptible to mildew infection which we are able to control with sulfur and mineral oil applications. Strip spraying is done only where needed, minimizing usage by maintaining narrow strip spray patterns. Equipment such as spray nozzles, hoses, tanks and pumps undergo routine maintenance to ensure that the proper amount of fungicide is being utilized. No pre-emergent fungicides are used. All chemical containers are recycled at designated recycling centers.
We use micro irrigation systems and incorporate regulated deficit irrigation programs to help reduce water usage. Fertigation is used to help support healthy soil structure and vine balance. Irrigation systems are routinely maintained to eliminate irrigation leaks and water waste.
In The Winery
We recycle all packaging materials and their shipping containers. All cardboard and plastic is recycled. All barrels are sold for planters or used as storage containers after their useful life for aging wine is over. All grape skins, seeds and stems are composted and added back to our vineyards. We use night air cooling in our cellars to minimize use of air conditioning. We have frequent energy audits to ensure our equipment runs efficiently. All forklifts are electric, emitting no carbon.
The Promise of Sustainability
Sustainable farming meets environmental, economic, quality and social objectives simultaneously. Ecologically-sound agriculture is a necessity for the long-term health of our planet and all of its inhabitants. At Sebastiani, we understand the responsibility we have to protect our land for our customers, employees, local communities and future generations.