At Ridge Vineyards, we are committed to sustainable winegrowing and farming our vineyards organically. We are the largest grower of organically certified grapes in Sonoma County and in the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation.
Sustainability is both a philosophy and a set of environmentally responsible practices designed to safeguard the land on which we grow our grapes. It seeks to conserve and renew natural resources, protect wildlife habitats, and ensure the safety and economic security of our employees.
Organic farming builds on sustainability by eschewing the use of synthetic chemicals in the vineyard. Instead, we use natural methods for maintaining soil health, controlling vine pests and diseases, and combating weeds and mildew. Ultimately, we feel that responsible farming is not only important for protecting our environment, but results in healthier soil and better quality fruit.
As of harvest 2021, a total of 379 acres of vines at our Monte Bello, Lytton Springs, Geyserville, and East Bench vineyards are certified organic. All of the vineyards that we farm are certified by the Fish Friendly Farming Environmental Certification Program, which acknowledges agricultural properties working to restore fish and wildlife habitats and improve water quality. As a result, the Sonoma County Winegrowers have recognized our Sonoma County vineyards as Certified Sustainable.
We are in the process of transitioning to organic farming for all remaining parcels of our Estate Vineyards. Lytton Springs and Geyserville are now 100% certified organic, and Monte Bello will also be 100% certified organic by harvest 2022.
Starting in 2008, we began the transition to farming our estate vineyards organically in order to bring our vineyard management techniques in line with our traditional winemaking practices, which employ only the non-invasive treatments used in fine winemaking prior to Prohibition. Together, these techniques make up our farming philosophy.
It is uncommon for a winery to produce any significant quantity of wine using such a natural approach, taking sustainably and organically-grown grapes and turning them into wine using only “pre-industrial” winemaking methods. Ultimately, the ends justify the means, because wines made in this fashion more aptly express their provenance and are far more gratifying to make and drink.
We have always believed that wine is far more interesting and meaningful when it reflects a single place and a natural process. Our commitment to farming our vineyards responsibly means that we maintain certain principles in the vineyard, including biodiversity, ecological balance, sustainability, natural pest management, and soil integrity.
We strive to limit “inputs” into the vineyard. Seeding our vineyards with non-vine plants attracts beneficial predatory insects, which mitigates the need to apply an insecticide that might cause harm to non-targeted species like bees. This process also eliminates the possibility that any insecticide residue could be present on the grapes during harvest.
Maintaining soil health is critical to an effective farming operation. To preserve soil structure, we only cultivate every other row between grapevines. At both of our winery facilities, we collect the stems and pomace left over from winemaking to make organic compost. This compost is applied to sections of the vineyard where our standard winter cover crop does not fully satisfy the nutritional needs of the vines.