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Save Our Parks and Your Teeth for Earth Day

Wineries around the world are pitching in to help out Mother Earth, from sustainable agriculture to planting trees to winery fermentation-fueled sodium bicarbonate for toothpaste

Posted: April 18, 2013

This upcoming Monday is Earth Day, the global celebration of the planet and annual opportunity to raise awareness of environmental issues worldwide. This year's theme is "The Face of Climate Change," and everyone around the world is encouraged to submit their own photo at www.earthday.org depicting how climate change has impacted their own lives. It's a particularly topical theme for the wine industry in the face of a report recently published in the Journal of the National Academies of Sciences on how climate change will affect vineyards around the world. As usual, the wine industry is making an effort to give back to Mother Nature—thanks in part for all those delicious grapes—and we've rounded up just a smattering of the many Earth Day and other environmentally friendly wine efforts going on around the world. Readers are encouraged to add their own Earth Day wine celebrations in the comments section.

• Carbon neutrality—absorbing as much carbon dioxide as you put out—is an admirable trend in winemaking right now. It's also pretty hard to do, so sometimes you have to get creative. Just ask Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte owner Daniel Cathiard. "Our goal is to reduce our impact. Every year we do a carbon study," Cathiard told Unfiltered. Despite having already planted 2.5 miles of hedges and 100 trees, his goal of going carbon neutral has been undermined by the winery's success: "We realized that we have a big carbon impact due to how much wine we export around the world and all the visitors we have from far away." Even, it turns out, fermentation was adding to SHL's footprint. The solution? Capture the carbon. As of this fall, the estate's new "stealth" cellar will not only have solar panels and a vegetative roof, but the ability to capture carbon lost during fermentation with the objective of making toothpaste. "It's an original idea, but we really want to reduce our footprint," said Florence Cathiard. CO2 is a byproduct of fermentation, generally useless to winemakers unless you want bubbles, but plenty useful in the making of sodium bicarbonate—baking soda—toothpaste. SHL already uses grape byproducts to create its Caudalie line of moisturizers, exfoliators, toners, skin enhancers and perfumes, so it only makes sense to get tooth care in the mix, though Daniel said there are no plans for a Caudalie toothpaste—the sodium bicarbonate will be sold to various toothpaste manufacturers. Beginning next year, our morning routine may bear a remarkable similarity to our evening routine: vigorous application of Cabernet.

• Drink wine, support a park. That's the kind of win-win situation Unfiltered gets behind. The National Park Foundation is appealing to citizens where it counts: their palates. The non-profit organization has launched Yosemite Artisan Wines, made by Adler Fels winery in Sonoma, priced at $16 and available online at www.nationalparkswinecollection.com, with $2 from each bottle sold donated to the foundation. The labels feature photos taken by photographer Mark Burns. When the foundation sought partners to help raise money, Adler Fels was a natural fit. “As artisan winemakers, land stewardship is at the heart of what we do,” said Adler Fels general manager Dan O’Leary in a press release. They hope to sell 10,000 cases this year, with reason to be optimistic. In Montana, Ten Spoon winery produces organic cuvées for Yosemite and Glacier National Parks, available online or at the parks. “Our park wines have been very successful,” owner Andy Sponseller told Unfiltered. “We’ve got some interesting wines here grown at high altitude and far north.” And if Earth Day isn't enough of an incentive to celebrate our nation's natural wonders, all entrance fees will be waived during National Parks Week, running April 22–26.

• Trinity Oaks, a brand owned and produced by the Trinchero family, is celebrating the planting of more than 7 million trees (enough to cover New York’s Central Park 22 times) since starting their One Bottle, One Tree program in July 2008. Created in partnership with the non-profit organization Trees for the Future, the program pledges to plant one tree for every bottle sold in an effort to restore tree cover in forests throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America. The wines, which retail for $8 per bottle and are available nationwide, include five California varietals, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, and feature labels made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper. For a more interactive look at the project, visit OneBottleOneTree.com, which features a real time tree-planting counter.

• Napa Valley and its agricultural community will celebrate Earth Day this Saturday with a dance and music festival in downtown Napa featuring dozens of vendors, including Clif Family Winery, Robert Mondavi Winery, Trinchero Family Estates, The Hess Collection and Beringer Vineyards. It's all part of the broader California Wines: Down to Earth Month, celebrating sustainable viticulture and winemaking in California all April. On Friday, the folks at Napa Green, a best-practices program that promotes environmentally sound farming and production methods among Napa vintners, will be sponsoring Napa's Earth Day celebration with special tours at some of Napa's Green Certified vineyards and wineries: St. Supéry is holding a $15 "Vineyard to Glass" tour and tasting at its Rutherford Estate Vineyard; The Hess Collection will host "An Earth Day Walk About," vineyard tour and tasting for $10; Jericho Canyon will be donating 100 percent of the $30 fee for its "Sustainability in Action" tour and tasting on Friday to the Nature Conservancy; and Honig Winery and Markham Vineyards will each offer free tastings (along with a guided sustainability tour at Honig). On Sunday, V. Sattui winery will host a barbecue with eco-friendly wines at the winery; admission is free.

• You’ll know you’ve arrived at the Down to Earth Month Earth Day festivities in Mendocino County when you’re able to spot an enormous solar array, windmill and teepee from the northbound side of Highway 101. There, on April 20 at Mendocino’s Solar Living Institute, you’ll meet many of the area’s winemakers, farmers and mushroom cultivators who follow sustainable practices, and you can even compete in a solar-powered car race. Then drive 15 minutes north to Parducci Wine Cellars in Ukiah, where the winery’s manager of edible ecosystems (!) will lead guided tours of the property’s organic gardens and share wine-, cheese-and-herb pairings. As if the opportunity to meet Parducci’s Lucy the sheep and Pansy the pig weren’t enough, some lucky guests will win bags of ranch-blended organic compost, private garden consultations and a covered wagon tour in the wetlands culminating in a wine tasting.

Benziger Family Winery in Sonoma County is celebrating Earth Day throughout the month of April, with complimentary tastings of Benziger’s sustainably grown wines at retail outlets all over the country. On April 20, at the Glen Ellen, Calif.–based winery, earth-friendly enthusiasts can learn about biodynamics in a seated tasting and seminar. According to the winery’s founder, Mike Benziger, this is an important time for those in the wine community to recognize their responsibility to our planet: “Earth Day reminds us that as farmers we’re the stewards of critical natural resources. We have a responsibility to our family, our communities and our customers to safeguard those resources for the next generation.”

• Iron Horse Vineyards will celebrate Earth Day with a walk-around food-and-wine tasting featuring a pig roast, live music and a lecture by Pulitzer Prize-winning scientist Jared Diamond. Local restaurants will provide fixings for a kimchi station and noodle bar, as well as a selection of local cheeses and sweets, while nearby wineries will showcase their spring releases. In addition to selections from DeLoach Vineyards, Dutton Goldfield Winery, Freeman Vineyard & Winery, Hartford Family Winery, Marimar Estate and Sequana Vineyards, Iron Horse will be showcasing wines of their own, including their newly released 2007 Ocean Reserve Blanc de Blancs, created in partnership with National Geographic. For every bottle purchased of the $40 sparkling wine, Iron Horse will donate $4 to charitable causes focused on creating marine protected areas and reducing overfishing around the world. For attendees curious to learn more about the cause, the wine labels (which are decorated with underwater photographs from National Geographic) feature a QR code that will direct smartphone users to information detailing the ocean's role in the winery's microclimate. And for epicureans, the code includes further information about the cuvée, and sustainable seafood recipes.

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