Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Regenerative Farming at Grgich Hills Estate

Are you familiar with the main principles of Regenerative FarmingGrgich Hills Estate has been a leader in this innovation, first by farming organically for the past two decades, then biodynamically, and finally regenerative farming as stipulated by Regenerative Organic Certified (ROC) since 2019. 

Winemaker and Vice President of Vineyards & Production Ivo Jeramaz and his son Luke provided an overview of this process during a BevFluence® organized tour of one of the Grgich Hills Estate's American Canyon vineyards. Here they farm 121.5 acres at cooler temperatures and stronger winds than in Napa Valley.  Over a crescendo of songbirds, ducks, geese, and guinea fowl; Ivo and Luke described how Grgich Hills implements five principles of Regenerative Farming leading to a vibrant nature preserve, productive grapes, reduced costs, and satisfied employees. Check back later for multiple posts on these chemical free principles, but here are the main features:

  1. No till agriculture reduces erosion and keeps valuable nutrients and microbes in the soil.
  2. Bio-diversity in the vineyard through at least four plant groups leads to sharing of nutrients.
  3. Planting cover crops that become layers of armor by protecting the soil from sunlight and maintains moisture.
  4. Let animals manage most vineyard activities such as mowing and pest control. Grgich Hills uses sheep, owls, songbirds, guinea fowl, and other animals to control cover crops and pests.
  5. Institute labor practices that ensure sufficient wages and worker safety that leads to greater retention and thus increased productivity.

Grgich Hills also provided a fantastic library tasting of their iconic wines -- after a refreshing glass of their 2021 Essence Estate Sauvignon Blanc ($55). This saline driven refreshing wine offers white grapefruit and stone fruit and is made from practically a 50-50 blend of American Canyon and Carneros grapes.  The 2016 Estate Napa Valley Chardonnay still carries similar acidity and minerality with floral and sweet apple and pear notes. 

Moving to red library wines, we started with the 2018 Estate Napa Valley Merlot which is a blend from three vineyards - the cooler American Canyon and Carneros vineyards and the warmer Yountville vineyard. Expect savory red fruit, some mint, structure and a balanced acidic - but polished finish. We had the pleasure to sip their 2014 Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and compare it to their 2007 Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2014 starts with a wonderful mouthfeel of black fruit and juicy structured tannins. Whereas the 2007 is lighter, it is still vibrant with noticeable tannins mingling with ripe raspberries. The final wine was the 2013 Estate Napa Valley  Miljenko's Old Vine Zinfandel sourced from 135-year-old vines grown in Calistoga. Think of savory black fruit dusted with black pepper finishing with juicy tannins. 

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