Ridge is the largest grower of organically certified grapes in Sonoma County and in the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation.
In 2008, after more than a decade of sustainably farming our estate vineyards, and after five years of experimenting with new organic treatments, we began the process of organic certification. The transition period for such certification in the U.S. is three years. For that period, the land is farmed adhering to the standards of the National Organics Program and the California State Organics Program prior to full certification.
After the transition period, a third-party certifying agency audits all internal records and cross-checks with the California Department of Pesticide Regulation to verify that only organic products, amendments, fertilizers and other inputs have been used. Upon certification, the amount of land and type of crop is registered with the State of California and the local county Agricultural Commissioner, and the requisite fees are paid to the certifier and the California Department of Food and Agriculture. At that point, a wine produced from the certified grapes can be labeled as “organically grown” if 100% of the grapes are certified. Each ranch is inspected annually by the certifying agency, and there is ongoing examination of records and documents.
As in many aspects of life, one must learn to walk before running. When Ridge made the commitment to transition to organic farming, our vineyard team developed a plan to certify groups of vineyard blocks over a number of years. Attempting to transition all the acreage we farm at once might have jeopardized fruit quality, and thus was deemed too risky.
In 2011, 76 acres at Monte Bello and 135 acres at Lytton Springs and Geyserville were certified organic. These were the first blocks of vines we started transitioning in 2008. Another wave of blocks in both locations completed certification in 2014, and the remaining blocks of Geyserville were certified in 2015. As of January 2020, the total of our organically farmed vines has reached 345 acres.