The certified B Corp winery has achieved climate neutrality, zero waste and Regenerative Organic Certification — setting a new standard for future-friendly wines.
Wine and agriculture are intrinsically linked. However, the intensive, conventional farming methods that enable wine grapes to grow around the world contribute to the climatic instability that threatens their future. To help preserve global soils and mitigate climate change, it is now more important than ever for industries to adopt regenerative and sustainable agricultural practices throughout their businesses.
One winery showcasing the feasibility of truly sustainable wine and the benefits of regenerative organic farming is Bonterra Organic Estates. The world’s largest Regenerative Organic Certified® (ROC) winery, Bonterra is on a mission to help mitigate the climate crisis, cultivate positive change in society, and create a better future for the planet and future generations. It recently launched its first ROC wines — its Estate Collection Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon — some of the first certified organic wines available globally.
“For Bonterra, the inspiration for regenerative farming was simple: Organic grapes produce the purest expressions of the varieties and land on which they are farmed,” Joseph Brinkley, Bonterra’s Director of Regenerative Farming, told Sustainable Brands®.
Bonterra’s estate vineyards in Mendocino County, California have been farmed organically since 1987, long before organic was mainstream in the US. To evolve into regenerative practices, Bonterra embraced techniques such as minimal soil disturbance; the use of cover crops to introduce nutrients into the soil; sheep grazing to reduce the need for tractors and enhance soil fertility; and no synthetic inputs.
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"Farming is an extractive process; plants use nutrients found in soils. In order to maintain healthy soils and grapevines, it's vital to replenish the nutrients by using methods found in regenerative organic farming,” explains Director of Winemaking Jeff Cichocki. “But farming is just one phase of our approach, as we simultaneously work toward the betterment of the environment and our workers. It's great to see the wine industry adapting towards ROC practices to support the longevity of California viticulture, and we're fortunate to be able to be a part of that adaptation in its early stages."
Image credit: Bonterra Organic Estates
Grapevines are a particularly sensitive crop and vulnerable to climate change. Therefore, winemakers globally need to adapt and rethink their farming practices. Bonterra is showcasing how vineyards can implement regenerative farming methods at scale, to produce the finest wines while also protecting the surrounding ecosystem.
“Regenerative organic practices have been used by indigenous cultures for thousands of years, and today we are seeing significant interest within the wine industry around embracing them at scale,” Brinkley explains. “At Bonterra, we are proof that it’s possible to do this at scale: All 850 of our Mendocino County estate acres are farmed this way. Worldwide, there are more than 700,000 acres that are Regenerative Organic Certified; and this number is rapidly growing.”
Bonterra is determined to be part of the solution to climate change, which prompted it to undergo the rigorous process of also becoming Climate Neutral Certified and advocating for ROC as a verified way of farming regeneratively. Brinkley notes that he continues to see ‘regenerative’ thrown around as a sustainability buzzword in the industry and beyond. But certification, traceability and transparency are becoming increasingly important to consumers, with purchasing decisions influenced more and more by brands' authentic demonstration of their commitment to climate-friendly practices.
“We are seeing a tremendous response to our portfolio of wines,” he adds. “In general, purposeful, impactful brands like Bonterra are thriving thanks to consumers who want to align their purchases with their personal values. As an impact-led business and Regenerative Organic Certified winery, our wines allow consumers to effect positive change through their purchase, and we see this resonates with our audience.”