Happy Earth Day! Please go outside your front door, or to your balcony, or an open window, and take a deep, healing breath. The air right now throughout the world is some of the cleanest we’ve experienced in decades.
Breath deep – Take a moment – Appreciate oxygen…and raise a glass to Mother Earth.
As the world enters day 20, 30, or 40 of this global stay-in-place amid the coronavirus pandemic, we are all going a little stir crazy. However, since this began, we aren’t driving our cars as much, factories aren’t operating to capacity, destructive chemical emissions have subsided, and the earth is exhaling.
For us, that means the Mauna Lani fish ponds are the clearest we have ever seen, the ocean is vibrant with intense greens and blues, deeper than we have ever seen, and the wild goats are quickly taking over the property and eating all the landscaping.
It is magnificent.
On this day, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, be thankful and be aware. Recognize this time of reset, take a moment to think about the climate, realizing it is our most valuable asset, our one pure necessity. This time of staying home will come to an end, and most likely, humanity will return to doing everything we have been doing to create climate change.
Unless we take steps to change our actions now.
Thankfully, all over the planet, the wine industry is embracing working sustainably, putting the environment at the forefront of their farming and winemaking practices. To toast the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, pick up a bottle of one of these wines from some of the most influential and inspiring environmental leaders in the biz. The wine industry, like so many, need your support right now, so consider ordering these selections directly from the producer if possible. #cheers
I can hear Lin Manuel Miranda in my head saying “what is a legacy” from “Hamilton” when I think of Robin Daniel Lail. Robin’s father, John Daniel, Jr., felt it was his duty to be the caretaker of his family’s legacy, managing Napa’s prestigious Inglenook Winery throughout much of the last century, until the 1960s. But Robin didn’t think this path was hers to follow. Instead, the Stanford University graduate, went to the city to find an office job. But, her heart was always in the vines, quickly drawing her back to her roots.
After years of working throughout Napa’s wine industry, including co-founding the highly regarded Dominus and Merryvale wineries, Robin began a new endeavor, bringing in her daughters Shannon and Erin as partners, carrying on the family’s legacy with Lail Vineyards.
Lail’s philosophy, with famed winemaker, Philippe Melka at the helm, is to allow the earth to speak through the wines. Mother Nature is a vital member of the team, so keeping her healthy is not only a hope but a requirement. Robin is the fourth generation of her family to farm Yountville’s Totem Vineyard in the heart of Napa Valley, formerly a part of Inglenook. The three-acre clay soil filled estate is dry-farmed, meaning roots must dig deep to find their nutrients, creating multi-dimensional textures and layers in their Blueprint Sauvignon Blanc ($40). Bright and energetic, the wine opens with herbal notes of wild sage, mint, and lemongrass, followed by lemon-lime, and peach blossom, and fresh apple.
A major advocate of protecting our earth, 10% of every bottle of Lail Blueprint Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon ($80), is donated to organizations battling climate change, with the winery giving free shipping during our stay in place.
A leader in her efforts to create an environmentally conscious, and cost effective winery, Winemaker Eileen Crane has been the driving force behind the development of Domaine Carneros as a fully sustainable, traditional method sparkling wine producer. Utilizing everything from renewable energy systems with solar power, packaging recycling and reuse, and sustainable growing practices throughout their estate vineyards, Domaine Carneros can be celebrated for their green efforts, and their simply delicious wines.
Bright, lively, and very crisp, Domaine Carneros Brut Rose ($44) melds wild cherry, ripe raspberry, and fresh herbs de Provence, with a juicy yet very clean palate, ideal for sipping from the start of the evening through to the end.
The goal for Napa’s ADAMVS Winery Estate is to create an authentic, terroir-driven Cabernet Sauvignon celebrating the red, volcanic soils of their 75-acre Howell Mountain estate. The best way to do this is to practice organic and biodynamic farming practices, creating harmony in the vineyard that translates into a structured, elevated, highly expressive wine with elegance, character, and longevity. Farming practices at ADAMVS are certified organic and biodynamic by CCOF and Demeter, enhanced with Napa Green certification for the winery. Blending fruit from throughout their estate, ADAMVS Teres Cabernet Sauvignon ($200) captures the essence of the mineral-rich, Howell Mountain fruit with a lush, fruit-forward palate of ripe currant, blackberry, milk chocolate, and mint.
The Gundlach Bundshu family has been farming their Sonoma Valley Rhinefarm Estate for over 150 years, a task they plan on doing for 150 more. The only way to do this in a world filled with climate instability is to farm their historic vineyard sustainably. First produced by the winery in 1976, the current 2016 Gundlach Bundshu Merlot ($35) is rich and complex, thanks to a small addition of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon, while maintaining lush approachability and impressive structure.
Understanding the most important aspect of winemaking is the land, Rolando and Lorena Herrera began their Napa Valley vineyard management company to ensure they had total control over every aspect of the farming to create their Mi Sueno Wines. Deeply devoted to the land, focusing on the health of the soil, the Herrera’s respect for their vineyards shines through their wines. Blending fruit from vineyards throughout Napa, Mi Sueno Cabernet Sauvignon ($75) reveals ripe boysenberry and blackberry, wet leaves, sweet spice, and dark chocolate.
Named in honor of the Red-shouldered Hawks that keep harmful rodents naturally in check throughout S
hafer Vineyards sustainably farmed Red Shoulder Ranch Vineyard in Carneros, produces some of the most exceptional Chardonnay ($52) wines in the valley. Though the wild yeast fermented wine does not go through malolactic fermentation, it does remain on the lees (yeasts) for 15 months, giving incredible creaminess to the textured, elegant, highly refined, and utterly delicious palate.
When Spanish wine and sherry producing powerhouse, Gonzalez Byass, ventured to Chile to develop a Southern Hemisphere presence, they brought their clean growing methods with them. The group of Chilean wineries are EcoCert certified for their organic farming practices, including their value brand Veramonte, up to their premium selection, Neyen.
From own-rooted vines initially planted in 1889, Neyen ($60) highlights the quality you can find in Chilean wine, producing a wine that tastes like it should cost much more. Blending terraced vineyard, Colchagua Valley, old-vine Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere revealing a rustic, concentrated wine with black pepper, toasted vanilla, fresh leather, raspberry, and plum.
In an area where drought and rain depravity are more the norm than not, conservation and sustainability have become core principles for Sonoma’s MacRostie Winery & Vineyards, especially focusing their efforts on water conservation, along with waste reduction, composting, and energy efficiency.
Named after founder, Steve MacRostie’s wife, Thale, MacRostie Thale Vineyard Pinot Noir ($58) expresses the elegance of Russian River, with blueberry, black tea, Asian spice, and violets.
Agriculture, and reverence for the land, is in the DNA of third generation Napa Valley farmer, Tom Gamble. Heavily influenced by his family’s understanding that their livelihood centered around maintaining a healthy ecosystem, so protecting it was not only preferred but required. With a preservationist approach, Gamble Family Vineyards devotes 20% of the 214 farmed acres to conservation, stewarding the land to make a positive impact on the future. Gamble Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon ($60) has a refined earthiness I love, melding dusty tobacco, leather, and toasted coffee, with black cherry, blackberry, and fig.
From the diverse soils of Sicily, SOStain founding member, Tasca d’Almerita celebrates the indigenous varieties of the island, allowing them to shine as it is their inherent responsibility to preserve their vineyards, leaving it unchanged for the next generation. Begun in 1830, the family’s long history in wine production governs their low environmental impact practices, creating wines that tell the story of the land. “Tenuta Regaleali” is a hilly, green oasis in the center of Sicily with twelve different soil types and varying elevations.
Tasca d’Almerita “Antisa” Catarratto ($22) comes from some of the highest elevations on the estate, capturing bright, crisp acidity, delivering a white wine filled with lemonade, grassy herbal notes, and crushed stone. From clay and loam filled soils on the estate, “Guarnaccio” Perricone ($20) is dense and broad, an ideal red for wild game or hearty beef pairings, with black fruit, pencil lead, balsamic, and dusty forest floor notes.
Employing organic, Biodynamic, and sustainable vineyard practices throughout Benziger Family Winery Sonoma estates, the multi-generational family business creates distinctive selections that are also mindful of the environment. Benziger Sunny Slope Signaterra Biodynamic Cabernet Sauvignon ($59) from Sonoma Valley layers red and black cherry, red currant, and plum, with toasted spice and cedar. From organic Carneros vines, Benziger Reserve Chardonnay ($35) melds ripe green apple, Asian pear, lemon curd, and toasted hazelnut.
As a family winery, with children running through the vineyards alongside their parents, Scheid Family Winery is committed to sustainable vineyard and winery practices, with 100% of the family vineyards and winery operations officially certified by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance. Metz Road Riverview Vineyard sits on the Salinas Valley benchland in California’s Central Coast region of Monterey. Morning fog and strong winds off the Monterey Bay ensure that grapes enjoy a long growing season, maturing fully while maintaining fresh acidity. Metz Road Riverview Vineyard Pinot Noir ($36) captures dark fruit notes with underlying baking spice and vanilla.
One of Willamette Valley’s oldest vineyards sits just north of the VanDuzer Corridor in the foothills of the Oregon Coastal Range. Biodynamically farmed, with a focus on biodiversity, Hyland Vineyard grows distinct Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, and utterly delicious Riesling. Recognizing the beauty of this place, Penner-Ash sources old vine fruit for their Penner-Ash Old Vine Hyland Vineyard White Riesling ($35) showcasing candied lemon rind, ripe apricot, and tangerine.