Flourish Magazine

Flourish Fall 2013

Flourish Magazine, the North Bay's Guide to Sustainable Living. Serving Marin, Sonoma and Napa counties and sharing the stories of local people working towards sustainable living, organic foods and eco-conscious lifestyles.

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Page 28 of 55

I t's easy being green in Sonoma wine country, where solar panels dot the landscape, sheep "mow" weeds between grapevines and nesting boxes house hawks and owls that Adopting the Code Three wineries take the unpaved path to sustainability keep crop-damaging rodents in check. Earth-friendly practices continue to spread across the re- gion, according to Allison Jordan, executive director of the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA). "In the wine industry, as with other agricultural industries, sustainability appears to have moved beyond a trend and is now a permanent part of the business landscape." Adoption of these practices has been made easier by the Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Practices that the CSWA first established in 2002. "The idea was to be able to continue to produce high quality grapes and wine in California for generations to come," Jordan says. That's what Bob Cannard and Fred Cline took to heart when by penny popken photos by stuart lirette they forged their partnership – via handshake – in the late 1990s. Cannard, an agricultural legend in Sonoma County, is a self-taught former Santa Rosa Junior College sustainable agriculture instructor who has long provided top quality produce to Chez Panisse in Berkeley. Cline and his wife Nancy are the owners of Cline Cellars and Jacuzzi Family Vineyards in Sonoma. After an awkward first meeting – Cline thought he caught Cannard and his children trespassing on his property – the two men formed a close bond as Cannard worked to convince Cline that he was growing his grapes "all wrong". "He was a conventional farmer using herbicides and pesticides," Cannard says. "We worked on that for several years." Cline says he saw the light "after seeing how long it took me to get the ground under the vines to grow the right kind of grasses. It had been sprayed for so long. That's no good for the health or longevity of the vines." Cannard, who simply calls himself "a gardener," now oversees all vineyards and ornamental gardens for the Clines, eschewing conventional grape-growing practices in favor of what he calls "natural process farming," a method that blends both organic and biodynamic principles. "We surpass organic standards," he says. "Our plants are fed raw minerals. We don't look at bugs as pests but as indicators of plant health. We don't kill the bugs. We nourish the plants. A good healthy plant has a good immunological system. Feeding the soil is key. Soil is number one." This is achieved through the use of compost, compost teas, cover crops (which feed the soil) and crop rotation. A flock of sheep is moved around the properties, offering different "services" in the vineyards throughout the year. In wintertime, they mow weeds. In summertime, they effortlessly carry out the labor-intensive (for humans) practice of leaf-thinning by nibbling away the lower leaves of the grapevines to increase sun New barrels are staged outside of the winemaking facility at Deerfield Ranch Winery in preparation for filling and aging. FALL 2013 • FLOURISH 29

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