Earth Day in a Big Way: Wastewater Worms, 21 Million Trees and Cabernet All Day

Your guide kicking the dirt and tilting your cup during the big green weekend and beyond in wine country
Earth Day in a Big Way: Wastewater Worms, 21 Million Trees and Cabernet All Day
One of the gardens at Cakebread Cellars. On Earth Day, the winery's team of tiny worms will be busily munching on wastewater contaminants (also on other days). (Courtesy of Cakebread Cellars)
Apr 18, 2019

Wine country has a knack for turning every occasion into a party, but with the world of wine going all-in on green practices, Earth Day is shaping up to be especially epic. The annual celebration of the environment falls on a Monday this year—April 22—but wineries in California are making a weekend of it, if not a week, month, or just an everyday jam going forward in recognition that this whole environment thing is pretty worth taking good care of, if you're a grapegrower/human!

"We don’t just think about the health of the vine for the next few vintages," Cakebread Cellars owner Bruce Cakebread told Unfiltered via email. "We think in terms of future family generations to come. Earth Day inspires us to work harder in our efforts to protect our precious resources and to preserve the land."

From concerts to pizza, drinking wine to befriending bees, here's how to get in on the Earth action in the coming days.

Courtesy of Napa Valley Vintners
The Napa Green certs for vineyards (left) winery facilities. Cakebread, Honig and St. Supéry are among the few wineries that hold both.

In 2015, Napa Valley Vintners set a goal of having 100 percent of members participate in the Napa Green certification program for ecological best practices by 2020. The organization recently announced 70 percent of eligible wineries are involved and "committed to elevating their farming and winemaking practices to further enhance the Napa River Watershed and conserve valuable natural resources, all while continuing to craft incredible wines," NVV associate director of industry relations Michelle Novi told Unfiltered.

So we'll start in Napa …

  • Oxbow Commons: Earth Day Napa, Sunday April 28, all day. There will be crafts, games, learning about conservation, beer, pollution prevention, wine, watershed health education, and a musical lineup organized by BottleRock. All beverage sales benefit the Field Trip Bus Grant program run by the Environmental Education Coalition of Napa County.
  • Honig: They'll be running eco-tours, including ferrying visitors over to the winery's wildlife habitat area, home of the "Honig bees." Visitors on Earth Day (April 22) get a reusable wine cup and a taste of a usually-off-menu single-vineyard Cab while they learn about the winery's conservation work on the backyard Rutherford Reach of the Napa River. "[We're] creating a natural habitat in our vineyard for the right insects to thrive, dry-farming, using light-weight bottles, using electric vehicles and so much more," vintner Stephanie Honig told Unfiltered.
    Courtesy of Honig
    Honig's winery is powered by more than 1,500 solar panels.
  • Cakebread: They're gonna be busy, because the team is joining the April 28 Napa Earth Day Clean-Up, picking up trash along the Napa River. (You can, too.) Cakebread is certified Napa Green for both winery and vineyards, and Bruce Cakebread told Unfiltered about their latest cutting-edge green-tech innovation: worms. The winery is testing out a worm-powered wastewater treatment system called BioFiltro BIDA, in which microorganisms "remove" (eat) the bad stuff in the water, and release "castings" (worm manure) that can then also be used as fertilizer for the winery's gardens; even water from the parking lot is collected and filtered.
  • St. Supéry: From April 19 to April 22 at 10 and 2, the Rutherford winery is offering Earth Day tastings and tours that showcase its sustainable farming and winemaking practices. You also get seafood recipes from the winery's program to work with restaurants in promoting sustainable seafood.
  • V. Sattui: Offering Earth Day weekend and week tours of its organic Vittorio’s Vineyard and a tasting of five wines, with emphasis on educating visitors about the winery's sustainability efforts. Visitors that arrive with an extra go-green mentality in mind—by bicycle, publication transportation, or electric vehicle—will be offered two-for-one tastings during the week.
  • Trinity Oaks: Their whole thing is trees! For every bottle sold, the winery plants a tree through the Trees for the Future nonprofit. The "One Bottle One Tree" program has been going strong for 11 years now and planted 21 million trees, largely in resource-poor areas of developing countries. Trinchero Family Estates sister winery Sutter Home will also be pouring Trinity Oaks in its tasting room.

And over in Sonoma, sustainability is progressing apace as well: In fact, Sonoma County Winegrowers set a goal in 2014 of reaching 100 percent sustainability—by the end of this year. As of the end of 2018, 89 percent of vineyard acres were certified, which puts them well on track.

  • DeLoach: On Saturday, April 20, from 10 to 4, it's wine and pizza day. The estate is showcasing its biodiversity, encouraging visitors to stroll around the beehive and vegetable and herb garden while sipping Vinthropic Chardonnay and Pinot. Net proceeds from those wines go to Redwood Empire Food Bank. "We wanted people to be in nature," said Jean-Charles Boisset, whose group of wineries includes DeLoach. "An Earth Day event among the vines is, of course, 'natural'!" Goes together like wine and pizza in our book.
    Courtesy of DeLoach
    Down on Jean-Charles' farm there is a big white sheep ….
  • Benovia: Take a hike! Also on April 20 at 10, visitors can join an hourlong hike through Martaella Estate Vineyard in the Russian River Valley, learning about the winery's sustainable practices and drinking wines from the vineyard, in the vineyard, along the way.

So wherever you are, lift a glass this weekend to Earth—the best planet there is for making wine. That we know of.

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