Wineries Go Green for Earth Day
On April 22nd, Earth Day will be celebrated across the United States. Earth Day is held as a reminder that hind-site is always 20-20. We see clearly what we have done in the past and what we need to do in the future to create a sustainable environment. Wineries play a part in Earth Day as well by remembering that they were not always environmental crusaders. Past practices weren’t always rosy and excessive watering, misuse of pesticides, overuse of chemicals to control mold, and large, energy -inefficient wineries where all too common. But through outreach like Earth Day and consumer demand to become environmentally friendly, wineries have changed their tune and the way they farm, make wine, and sell it. Not only is being environmentally friendly necessary for sales, it also just makes good sense. It is not uncommon for wineries to invest in drip irrigation to minimize the use of water, integrated pest management programs to help use minimal chemicals, and tasting rooms and their grounds have become much more energy and environmentally efficient. Some wineries take it one step further and have become certified organic, green, or bio-dynamic.
In the Livermore Valley AVA, five wineries are doing their part by developing drought resistant gardens on their grounds. A Drought Resistant Native Garden Wine Trail was created in cooperation with the Alameda County Master Gardeners. These gardens help threefold: they conserve water, reduce pesticide usage, and attract wildlife and beneficial insects that help in pollinating the vineyards. Wineries worked with the Master Gardener program, an outreach program of the University of California through its Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Master Gardeners are trained volunteers who provide residents of Livermore Valley and beyond with information to help them garden in schools, backyards, businesses and other locations.
Trail maps are available online at Livermore Valley Winegrowers Assocation and at each of the following winery locations. Below are the five wineries included in the trail and what each winery features:
- Cedar Mountain Winery: A wide perennial garden flanks both sides of the barrel room. The garden is filled with roses; especially captivating is the climbing rose Altissimo. Hardy penstemon and sages also fill the beds.
- Concannon Vineyard: Playful topiary is the obvious theme of these gardens, where even mature Fruitless Mulberry trees are trained into arches and orbs. Drought resistant New Zealand flaxes, purple hopseed and daylilies are scattered among the olive trees.
- Las Positas Vineyards: Many drought resistant grasses, including California fescue and Mexican feather grass are planted in this extensive landscape that also features Teucrium chamaedrtys (germander).
- Rodrigue Molyneaux Winery: Lush ground covers with ceanothus and native deer grass are featured in the many garden “rooms.” A flowery border that runs along an outdoor seating area has been replanted with honey bush mahonia and various colored leafed heuchera that add color. A native garden is labeled with small signs to inform guests the names of the various native Californian plants.
- Wente Vineyards Estate Winery: A former parking lot is now planted with hardy trees, shrubs and perennials that welcome guests to picnic. Outside the winery, white oleander and olive trees under-planted with rosemary, lavender and agastache repeat in drifts along Tesla Road. Coffeeberry and heleanthemum are highlights of a corner garden in this space that features native and drought resistant plants.