Many wineries have made impressive strides in sustainability—here are five we love in Napa.
Domaine Carneros vineyard
To make great wines, especially over time, a winery must be a steward of the land and treat vineyards with care. Responsible winemakers, each in their own way, use techniques to keep the earth healthy. Many employ biodynamic farming, solar power, use of creative organic fertilizers and everything from weed-eating sheep to sustainable packaging.
Environmental crusaders are helping vineyards become green, and local community members like Martin Reyes, principal at the Reyes Wine Group (reyeswinegroup.com), are creating events like Napa Thrives (napathrives.org). The event took place in June and July and was perhaps the most comprehensive environmental winery gathering to date. This inaugural effort included an innovative mentorship program and six highly focused half-day seminars addressing everything from drought to fire.
Here are five wineries that not only offer wonderful experiences and make world-class wines but are also certified green and are actively involved in Napa Thrives.
Remi Cohen, the CEO of Domaine Carneros
The experience: Tastings at the grand chateau-style winery are held outdoors on the terrace, which overlooks the rolling hills of Carneros. Guests order everything from caviar to potato chips to complement the vineyard’s sparkling and still wines. Favorites also include global food pairing experiences, Champagne-sabering demos and other intimate experiences designed for romantic occasions like anniversaries and proposals.
Green cred: Since its founding in 1987, Domaine Carneros has been heralded as an environmental leader; in 2019, it received the prestigious Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Award.
Not to miss: The Rêve or Brut rosé. The Rêve is always a favorite and is 100% chardonnay sparkling wine aged for a minimum of six years.
Rutherford Hill Winery offers plenty of spaces to taste its outstanding wines.
The experience: Celebrating its 50th anniversary, this historic winery offers a variety of intimate options for guests that include wine picnics in the oak grove and tastings in an elegant rose garden.
Green cred: Rutherford Hill is certified Napa Green in both its vineyard and winery. The longtime facilities manager, Juan Moreno, notes the vineyard “adheres to strict sustainability guidelines, including water use and irrigation efficiency, following restricted pesticide guidance, restrictive burning and carbon farming practices, ecosystem management, solid waste reduction and composting, and air quality and climate protection.” Rutherford is 100% solar powered and sends excess power back to the community grid.
Not to miss: The merlot. The founders of Rutherford Hill were among the first to plant and champion merlot in 1972—and still make one of the best in Napa Valley.
Tres Sabores winery uses sheep in its green efforts.
The experience: A local favorite and hidden gem, Tres Sabores is nestled into the base of the Mayacama Mountains in St. Helena; it’s as welcoming as any winery in Napa Valley. The wines are world class, and guests may sip in a cool cave, at a picnic table amid the vines, under massive oak trees or in a comfortable tasting cottage. Visits are by appointment only; be sure to book in advance.
Green cred: Tres Sabores is the oldest certified organic vineyard in the region; it’s carbon negative and committed to improving the vineyard’s soils and habitat while preserving resources. The winery’s beloved founder and environmental leader, Julie Johnson, puts it simply: “We pay attention, and we cherish our space. The best fertilizer is the footstep of the grower.”
Not to miss: The estate zinfandel. With only 500 cases produced, this rare wine is full of berries, pepper, earth and pizazz. A perfect late-summer and fall wine for grilled meats or something to savor with hearty holiday cuisine.
Chimney Rock’s estate cabernet sauvignon is one of the finest in the region.
The experience: Chimney Rock offers a Vineyard Odyssey experience that ushers guests to several sites on the estate and focuses on the uniqueness of each vineyard and wine. Guests can also opt for a seasonal selection wine tasting, which includes a seated tasting of several wines on the patio. Make sure you book an appointment in advance.
Green cred: Chimney Rock became Napa Green certified in the vineyards and winery nearly a decade ago and is solar-powered. The winery’s team uses recycled water for irrigation and has a green employee training program that focuses on environmentally friendly practices that range from vineyard care to conscious packaging.
Not to miss: The estate cabernet sauvignon. This wine is the ambassador to the 105-acre estate, as it’s a blend of each of the winery’s distinct blocks. The promise of this wine is to capture the essence of Stags Leap District, striving for the perfect balance of power and grace.
Spottswoode Estate Vineyard and Winery
The experience: This family winery offers a very personal, grounded tasting experience; guests visit the organic vineyard and tour the historic estate property, which includes elegant gardens and Victorian buildings. The vineyard team hosts a limited number of guests, so make sure to book well in advance.
Green cred: The 42-acre Spottswoode Estate Vineyard has been farmed organically since 1985. The vineyard holds organic, biodynamic and Napa Green Land certifications, and Spottswoode was the first Napa Valley winery to earn Certified B Corporation status. Spottswoode is a member of International Wineries for Climate Action and a signatory of the Porto Protocol and a Carbonfund.org partner. The winery is solar powered, and the team measures greenhouse gas emissions annually and participates in Marin Clean Energy’s Deep Green program. Over the past 15 years, Spottswoode has donated more than $1.24 million to an array of impactful environmental groups.
Not to miss: The estate cabernet sauvignon. Crafted exclusively from grapes grown in the vineyard’s organic, biodynamic and Napa Green-certified estate vineyard, which was first planted in 1882, this wine is an authentic expression of this historic place.
Photography by: COURTESY OF DOMAINE CARNEROS; BY DAMION HAMILTON; COURTESY OF RUTHERFORD HILL WINERY; COURTESY OF TRES SABORES; BY BOTTLE BRANDING; BY ROBB MCDONOUGH