We are often called America’s greenest wine region.
Mendocino County leads the nation in organic vineyard acreage. 3,950 acres of vineyard are California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF). 690 acres of viticulture are Demeter Certified Biodynamic. 32,000 acres of farmland are certified Fish Friendly Farming (FFF). Mendocino County is home to Frey, the first US organic and biodynamic winery, Bonterra, the largest US organic wine producer, and Parducci, the first US carbon neutral winery. *
A number of organic vineyards maintain wineries. Others sell their grapes to organic wine producers in the region. Award-winning organic wines are created in numerous varietals. These wines compete and win against wines from around the world.
The list of Mendocino County organic wineries and vineyards is long, distinguished, and growing. Frey Organic Wines is America’s first organic and biodynamic wine. Frey has produced award-winning, vegan, gluten free, no added sulfite wines since 1980.
Three generations of the Frey family are stewards of the land, using biodynamic principles fostering ecological self-sufficiency. The vegetable, fruit and bee gardens play a part in each glass of Frey wine. They raise cows, goats, sheep, and chickens that contribute to every drop. The farm isn’t divided into separate systems, but is a continuous circle of all plant and animal life in balance and respect with each other, the soil, water, and air.
Mendocino County was green long before the current trend. In the mid-1800’s, European immigrants brought natural farming and wine production methods with their vines. In the 1970’s and 80’s, small vineyards and wineries producing hand-crafted wines flourished. That trend continues today. Each year more vineyards are certified organic as they fulfill the requirements of certification agencies. More and more wineries are mastering organic and biodynamic winemaking methods. Mendocino County is a leader in the movement. There are 570 vineyards with a median size of 14 acres, many with second and third generations working the land. Smaller family-owned and operated vineyards and wineries are models of green winemaking.
When it comes to organic wines, labels can be confusing or lack information. This CCOF Know The Facts sheet clarifies the terms, ‘organic’, ‘made with organic grapes’ and ‘organic ingredients’.
A tour of every Mendocino County organic winery would take some time. There are a surprising number. The inventory grows constantly. While not a complete list, here are a dozen to explore:
Ukiah – Bonterra, Paul Dolan, Nelson Family
Anderson Valley – Handley, Lichen
Hopland – Jeriko Estate, Topel, Patianna
Potter Valley – McFadden, Blue Quail
Visit Mendocino County’s organic wineries and vineyards. Your experience will go beyond tasting. It will be a journey into the land, lives, and craft of Mendocino County, America’s greenest wine region.
Thanks for stopping by, MaryGo
This story also appeared in the Fort Bragg-Mendocino Coast Packet, April 2016 issue.