Domaine Carneros, one of the leading sparkling wine houses in California, has just received organic certification of all its Estate vineyards by the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF). The certification gives the winery the distinction of becoming the first sparkling winery in the United States with all estate vineyards certified. The green seal of approval was a long time coming for the winery whose sustainable farming practices date back to its inception in the late 1980s.
“We’ve always taken an active role to preserve the health of the land,” says Domaine Carneros President and Chief Winemaker, Eileen Crane. “The organic certification is the result of years of hard work and dedication to the land, and we’re proud to finally reach this point in our farming practices.” Crane has kept the winery’s organic farming practices under the radar. “Our first commitment is to produce the best wines and we believe that you achieve this through healthy vines, becoming organic was a natural evolution for us from the start,” says the winemaker who spearheaded the winery’s green movement beginning almost twenty years ago.
Organic certification by the CCOF is a three-year process that the winery began in 2005, but evolved long before then. Domaine Carneros has never used insecticides. In the mid 90’s Domaine Carneros tried organic farming in some blocks of new vineyards. Over the next 10 years inorganic fertilizers were replaced with organic substitutes. Vineyard equipment was purchased to control the weeds, without use of herbicides. By 2005 they had their first year of completely organic farming, with all of Domaine Carneros’ 350 acres of vineyards being managed organically.
In addition to Domaine Carneros’ commitment to environmentally friendly growing practices, in 2003 the winery installed the largest photovoltaic solar collection system then existent on any winery in the world. Other natural energy facilities at the winery include lighting by skylights, night cooling systems to maintain cellar temperature and building into the earth for insulation. The vineyard also has owl boxes placed in all four vineyards, which are inhabited and used as rodent management.
Domaine Carneros is located in the picturesque Carneros AVA region known as its own appellation that shares a portion of both Sonoma and Napa Counties. The Carneros region is best known for its cool climate and maritime influences making it the perfect terroir to grow Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, two of the essential varietals in the award-winning sparkling wines from Domaine Carneros. The winery produces a super premium vintage Brut, a luxury Blanc de Blancs called Le Rêve, a Brut Rosé called Cuvée de la Pompadour and three Estate Pinot Noirs: Avant-Garde, Domaine Carneros Pinot Noir and The Famous Gate. Domaine Carneros was founded in 1987 by Champagne Taittinger Chairman Claude Taittinger, along with importer Kobrand Corporation, with a mission to produce some of the finest sparkling and still wines that reflect the Carneros terroir and the spirit of their French ownership.