As of September 2023, we are officially Regenerative Organic Certified®
What is Sustainability?
We like to say sustainability ultimately comes down to this: Make it better, leave it better.
This not only reflects the wine we’re trying to make, but also the world we’re trying to leave behind.
Sustainability in the wine industry is not only about producing higher quality wine, but also about ensuring the health of the environment, supporting local communities, and responding to global challenges such as climate change. Our vision is a holistic approach that aims to balance economic, social, and environmental factors for the benefit of current and future generations.
If we’ve learned one thing about being responsible stewards of this land for the last six generations our family has been here, it’s that it requires constant innovation and action throughout the whole process all the way from dirt to glass. From our solar panels to recycling to our irrigation system*, to our Regenerative Organic Certified® achievement, a glass of GB wine supports a healthier, happier, more sustainable world for us all. (And the fact that the wine tastes better is just a bonus!)
“Many certifications just tell you what you can and can’t do, but ROC requires you to look closely at the biggest elements of your land, how they fully function together as one, and how one piece can’t be successful without the other.” -Meghan Murphy, Sustainability Manager
What does it mean to farm regenerative organic?
Regenerative organic agriculture is a collection of practices that focus on regenerating soil health and the full farm ecosystem including soil health, animal welfare, and fairness for farmers & workers. It is overseen by the Regenerative Organic Alliance (ROA). You can learn more about the origins of ROA and their story here.
In the vineyards, our organic farming practices include the introduction of beneficial predators, from owls and bluebirds to beetles and mites, and intensive pest monitoring allows us to minimize the use of pesticides and herbicides. Cover crops contribute vital diversity and nutrition to the soils, and we utilize organic compounds whenever inputs (such as sprays) are needed.
Our grazing crew includes goats, sheep, donkeys and cows, who assist in the buildup of soil health as well as help with fire mitigation with dry brush in our native landscape. The sheep are taken care of by our livestock guardian dogs, Bert and Reynolds.
“Many of our vines are over 50 years old, and we’re hoping they grow for another 100. That means it’s really important to treat the surrounding area with care and forethought for the people who are going to come generations after us.” -Joe Uhr, Director of Winemaking
We like to compare why regenerative matters to this analogy. Let’s say you’re ill, the doctor might prescribe you medicine and it might give your ailment some instant relief, but it won’t stop you or your body from procuring that same illness again.
But if you acknowledge your body’s needs and alter your lifestyle, change your diet, and build new healthy habits, you’ll likely reduce the number of times you need to see the doctor and mitigate illness. Regenerative acts similarly; it’s not a band aid for our ecosystem, but rather a deeper, fundamental change with the mission to build a healthy environment, healthy people and healthy state.
Regenerative organic addresses each element of our ecosystem and defines how they all depend on each other and work as a unit. Regenerative practices help minimize soil erosion, prohibit the use of synthetic chemicals, and promote biodiversity, thus preserving ecosystems and protecting natural resources for future generations. Additionally, focusing on the health of the vineyard through organic practices can produce higher quality grapes. This can result in better-tasting wines that reflect the unique characteristics of the terroir.
Ready to go down the rabbit hole of our road to regenerative? Click HERE for the timeline of our past achievements and where we are today if you want to dive deeper into the nitty gritty of life on Rhinefarm. As of September 2023, we are now Regenerative Organic Certified®, while this is a monumental milestone for our company, at GB we show no signs of slowing down…
“ROC has become a framework for us to lean into because it represents fundamentally what we’ve been trying to do here for the last 165 years. You can’t have a family business for six generations and not function sustainably,” -Jeff Bundschu, President and CEO
The 411 on our Water & Power
*In November 2008, two new solar arrays were installed on our property to power our winery and water recycling program. The first, a 1.3 acre 80kw system, provides 60% of the winery power. The second, a “photovoltaic” system, was the first of its kind in Sonoma County. The panels float on our wastewater ponds and provide 100% of the power for our water reclamation system. These two systems reduce our carbon footprint by 99.2 metric tons of CO2— the same amount of energy it takes to drive around the world 100 times.
Vigilant management of our irrigation program promotes conservation, and we recycle 100% of winery water using a 70% solar powered water-reclamation system. We also recycle all cardboard, glass, cork, and plastics on the property and use wood chips for weed control, as well as grape pomace to reintroduce nutrients back into ground soil. In the spring of 2023, we started a composting program of all food waste through the county of Sonoma.