Sustainable Practices in the Vineyards and at the Winery
Markham Vineyards’ view of wine growing has always been to respect the land and fruit while working diligently to make both better. The only difference is now our objective has a name: sustainability. Using cover crops and alternate row cultivation to limit tractor and fossil fuel emissions, while still encouraging beneficial insect and plant growth, are methods that we have been using for many decades. It is a normal part of our vineyard management routine. Sustainability starts in the field and focuses on environmentally beneficial land management practices.
Fish Friendly Farming® has ‘Green Certified’ our vineyards in a land-water friendly partnership. This certification meets with standards developed by our local Bay Area Water Control Board and lowers sediments discharged into fragile waterways. Working in cooperation with the Napa County Resource Conservation District, we have specially engineered willow revetments on several of our properties to stop soil erosion and repair the creek banks bordering our vineyards. It is our goal each year to continue to evaluate, adjust and improve the land which we farm.
Water conservation is a necessity in the Napa Valley. This is a special concern on our Calistoga Estate where the vines struggle in the rocky soils. Special drip irrigation lines feed precious drops of water directly to the root structure of each vine. Our irrigation emitters are fitted with tubes that drip inside a sunken PVC pipe which stops evaporative water loss. Weather stations at each of our vineyards give us valuable data that is critical in decision making for sustainable farming.
We continuously review our methods and viticultural practices during the growing season. This has allowed us to combine tasks that limit tractor passes, utilize low impact spray chemicals and take advantage of working at night when the temperatures are cool. Night harvesting allows cool fruit to be delivered early to the winery which is beneficial for both the winery and the vineyards.
At the winery, the focus on sustainability continues in a more complex way: much like a great wine. Water conservation remains key in our efforts of being good stewards to our historic property. We reclaim all of our winery wastewater. We support our local California suppliers who provide our wine packaging materials such as glass, labels and bottle capsules. We use standard weight wine bottles that are not only better for our backs, but actually use less fuel when shipping our wines across the country. Partnering with a local recycling center allows us to reduce our landfill impact by recycling all our packaging materials. Even our grape pomace is recycled locally, and we purchase it back in the form of compost for our vineyards.
At the winery, we encourage each employee to reduce, recycle and reuse as much as possible. Ride sharing has been in place for decades at Markham. Family members make up both our cellar, bottling and harvest crews so we think of it as family bonding time. Even our janitorial company has gone ‘green’ making the winery healthy for everyone inside.
We are starting the process to move Markham Vineyards to a Certified Green Winery. It will be an endeavor to sustain resources without sacrificing quality. It has been amazing to see how much easier and better our lives have become by simply caring more about our environment. Please join us in celebrating sustainability in all that you do!