A while ago, I wrote about vegan and organic wines and in that post touched on sustainable farming and winemaking.
While a good portion of sustainable winemaking is in California, I wanted to find out whether any wineries here in Ohio were making the move to being sustainable.
For a vineyard to be sustainable it has to meet much if not all of the following criteria:
- Changing from power usage to solar power, thereby cutting energy consumption.
- Reusing and recycling all water and making their own compost as fertilizer.
- Practicing Integrated Pest Management: Using owls, bats, hawks or other wildlife, as well as cover crops to help control insects. Also using weed control/ border management by goats or sheep to cultivate the vineyards instead of traditional chemical pesticides and herbicides.
- Using low-gravity flow techniques to move wine steadily downward through the winemaking process, decreasing the use of energy consuming conveyor belts and equipment in the process.
- Recycling all materials used in the winemaking process.
- Erecting or modifying buildings to make them energy efficient.
- Using biofuel or alternately powered farming equipment; preferably using horsepower instead of tractors when workable.
- Ensuring that workers, employees are fairly treated, paid and housed (when necessary). If you’re going to go sustainable, you need cover all the bases.
Maple Ridge Vineyard in Madison, OH appears to be one of the only sustainable wineries in North East Ohio. They have been certified by the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association since 1997 and along with specializing in European style wines, cultivate vegetables, flowers, herbs, eggs and maple syrup that is sold to local farmer’s markets. According to their website, their grapes are hand-picked and processed manually and they use minimal filtration, with some wines being 100% unfiltered. Their winery is a fairly small, exclusive operation, with small production and yield, which would account for why I couldn’t find their wines stocked on any local wine store’s shelves.
At this time of year, their hours are very sporadic; I was unable to get my schedule to work with when they were open. But I’m looking forward to making it a stop on my North East Ohio summer winery tour.
There are benefits to the philosophy of winemaking, be it traditional or exclusively sustainable. For the wineries that have it as their inherent philosophy ~ and the consumers who mirror it ~ the choices about wine become very clear.
I’d like to think that in the future, we’ll see most wineries incorporate sustainability as much as possible into their winemaking practices: For themselves, for the earth and for all of us.