The Mendocino Winegrape & Wine Commission calls itself “America’s greenest wine region” with good reason. 28% of its 20,000 acres of vineyard are certified organic or biodynamic, 400% more than any other US wine region. Mendocino’s green culture did not emerge in response to recent consumer demand, it began that way organically and when you visit Mendocino you will understand why.
One of the many reasons why I love Mendocino is that it seems to be locked in time in the 1960’s and 70’s, where guys still wear long hair and beards and the radio always plays Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. The natural food store which used to strike me as a little too “granola” now seems almost contemporary (the Corners of the Mouth store has been running successfully for nearly 35 years). Everything about Mendocino is so natural, from the organic foods and wines to the spectacular redwood forests and rocky beaches, and to the people.
Mendocino growers and vintners are leaders in the organic movement with Frey Vineyards being the first organic winery in the U.S. in 1980 and then the first biodynamic winery in 1996. Bonterra is the largest producer of organic wine in the U.S. while Fetzer has the largest acreage of certified organic vineyards in California
Being “green” doesn’t just apply to organic growing which ensures the long-term vitality of the soil and vines growing on it, it also embraces the sustainability of our environment through reduction of carbon dioxide emissions achieved by energy conservation and resource recycling. McDowell Valley Vineyards was the first solar winery and Parducci, the first “carbon neutral” winery in the U.S. Fetzer has the largest solar array in the wine industry generating 1.1 million KW of power serving 80% of its electricity needs and it purchases 100% renewable energy. Fetzer also converted to 16% lighter glass bottles for 23 million bottles in 2007 which is significant given that the manufacture of standard size glass bottles produces the most CO2 emissions in the making of wine.
So next time you see a hippie in Mendocino, give him a hug. They had it right all along.