#WineDownWednesday: Cheers to Earth Day!

by Robin Barr Sussman on April 17, 2019 in Food, Drink,

Earth Day is April 22, but for many wineries, earth-friendly practices happen every day. From composting to water conservation, natural pest control and solar energy, more wineries are becoming environmentally conscientious.

Whether you drink red or white, make sure to go green in the glass this month with one of these sustainable wines. And check out the “earthy” recipe below.

JORDAN VINEYARD AND WINERY

Jordan is committed to environmental stewardship with numerous green business certifications including the Sonoma Green and Bay Area Green Business Programs, EverGreen Sonoma Clean Power, Sonoma Sustainable, fish-friendly farming and bee-friendly farming. Its Bordeaux-inspired Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, crafted to honor fine white Burgundy, are outstanding. Buy it: Spec’s, Total Wine & More. $30-$65

Jordan Winery Bordeaux-inspired Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, crafted to honor fine white Burgundy, are outstanding. Courtesy photo

BENOVIA

Visitors to Benovia’s Martaella Estate Vineyard in the Russian River Valley can’t miss the 171 solar panels on its chardonnay winery roof. They also harvest the power of nature with organic composting, water conservation and crop cover. Its Cohn Estate Vineyard wine grapes are farmed organically and the pinot noir and zinfandel wines are exceptional. Other must-try wines: Tilton Hill Estate Pinot Noir, Russian River Pinot Noir, and the Three Sisters Chardonnay. Too many good ones to mention, so check out the website (even better, go visit) for details! Buy it: Spec’s, Total Wine & More. $38-$65

COPPOLA

Director Francis Ford Coppola’s winery and surrounding vineyards are certified by the California Sustainable Winegrowers Alliance and the winery is a member of California’s Green Power Partnership program. At least a dozen lines of wines are produced and many labels will soon don the new Sonoma County Sustainably Farmed Grapes logo with augmented reality. Try Rosso & Bianco for delicious Italian style table wine; Director’s Cut, the winemaker’s vision of quintessential Sonoma wine; Bees Box, designed to donate portions to the Pollinator Partnership and Coppola’s Diamond Collection. There are so many wines to taste, you could visit the winery and resort every day for a week. Buy it: Kroger, HEB, Spec’s. $15-$120

Every wine in Benziger’s portfolio carries a third-party certification of green farming practices. Courtesy photo

BENZIGER

Every wine in this successful winery’s portfolio carries a third-party certification of green farming practices. Whether the vineyard is certified sustainable, organic or biodynamic, it is tended to with eco-responsible methods. Recommendations: Benziger Sauvignon Blanc, Organic Reserve Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and the certified biodynamic Benziger Estate Oonapais Bordeaux blend. Buy it: Spec’s, Kroger, Central Market. $12-$40

J VINEYARDS & WINERY

This Healdsburg favorite for bubbles is Certified Sustainable and its energy use is carbon neutral. But don’t pass up its myriad chardonnay styles, the zesty pinot gris, and the many luscious pinot noirs. Go visit and try the Bubble Room with food pairings. Buy it: Spec’s, Total Wine & More. $18-$85

J Vineyards and Winery, the Healdsburg favorite for bubbles, is Certified Sustainable and its energy use is carbon neutral. Courtesy photo

PARDUCCI WINE CELLARS

One of the oldest wine producers in California was declared “the greenest” in U.S. in 2011. Parducci continues to make remarkably good wines out of its sustainably farmed, carbon-neutral Mendocino outpost. Its water reclamation and conservation program captures and reuses 100% of its water. Small Lot sauvignon blanc is a winner among dozens of other worthy labels at different price points. Buy it: HEB, Spec’s, Central Market. $13-$38

JACKSON FAMILY WINES

This venerable empire founded by Jess Jackson is a pillar of sustainability with practices like wildlife-friendly vineyard design, water conservation and solar energy. Kendall Jackson’s myriad collection has grown to include the higher-end Spire Collection, Stature line, and the Jackson Estate wines with all the major grape varietals grown in the best regions of California. If you like un-oaked, pick up a bottle of Avante chardonnay. You won’t be sorry. Buy it: Kroger, HEB, Spec’s, Total Wine & More. $9-$90

Moet & Chandon Brut is perfect for a toast to Earth Day. Courtesy photo

MOET & CHANDON

In 2014, the Champagne house was awarded a double sustainable viticulture and high-quality environmental certification, and in 2016, it obtained the ISO 50001 energy management certification. The company has an eco-design approach to packaging, also. The collection of Champagnes is vast and widely available worldwide so the Brut is perfect for a toast to Earth Day.

MCMANIS FAMILY VINEYARDS

Built by five generations of farmers, this family-owned winery is Lodi Rules Certified Sustainable. The lovely collection of wines includes rosé of pinot noir, viognier, zinfandel, pinot grigio, petit verdot barbera, chardonnay and more. Buy it: Spec’s, Total Wine & More. $10-$45

The Brilliant Pairing

Farm Stand Roasted Carrots with Barbera

(Yield: 6 servings)

This recipe for roasted carrots pairs brilliantly with the dry, light-bodied McManis Barbera with notes of strawberries and sour cherries. Photo Adam Jaime/Unsplash

If you want to reduce your carbon footprint, go vegetarian for one week out of the month. This recipe inspired by the Earthbound Farms cookbook complements risotto or pasta or is a great side dish for Easter lunch. The roasted carrots turn out rich and slightly sweet, so pair it with the dry, light-bodied McManis Barbera with notes of strawberries and sour cherries. Don’t forget to recycle your corks!

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds organic multi-colored carrots, scrubbed and stems removed

3 tablespoons good olive oil

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons minced fresh dill or parsley

METHOD

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss carrots in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Transfer to a sheet pan in one layer and roast in the oven for 30 minutes, until golden brown and tender. Toss the carrots with minced dill or parsley, season to taste, and serve.


Robin Barr Sussman is a freelance culinary and travel writer who studied at the Culinary Institute of America Greystone California. As a chef for Sonoma County wineries, her specialty was food and wine pairing. Sussman’s work also appears in Houston Modern Luxury, Texas Monthly, Fodor’s, Houston House & Home, and Private Clubs Magazine.