Green Farming Practices
We are still practicing our green farming practices. That is to say, farming organically is not a static activity, and we continually experiment with and modify our vineyard practices to improve our grapes while minimizing our footprint on the land.
John Fetzer and his family were instrumental in promoting contemporary organic grape farming in California in the early 1980’s, and that belief directs his thinking to this day. We continue to practice the common-sense, traditional aspects of farming organically: use of specialized equipment to till under the vine rows to eliminate weeds and other vegetation rather than rely on pesticides and herbicides; composting; and planting cover crops, to name a few. We have also incorporated more modern practices (or, perhaps, ancient practices that needed resurrection), including increasing the biodiversity of our land with olive and pomegranate orchards and fields of sunflowers and heritage grains; bee keeping; using goats to weed-eat the hillsides; installing owl boxes to attract owls that control rodent populations; and a hillside planting of non-till, head-trained vines.
We are often asked whether green farming practices make a difference and are worth all the extra effort. For us, the answer is that there is no other way.
Saracina Ranch and our adjacent Atrea Ranch are ideal for the style of winegrowing and creative blending we practice. The ranches are tucked into a narrow valley that hugs the Russian River and the Mayacamas mountain range, where our vineyards have the benefit of an ideal climate for grapes—warm growing-season days and cool nights—that enhances the acidity of our wines. The diversity of soil types and variety of aspects on our ranches also provide our winemaker with a number of compelling vineyard sites. Nevertheless, where we need additional sources to achieve that elusive combination of balance, intensity, and complexity, we do not hesitate to source from nearby grape farmers, with venerable vineyards, who have the same dedication to organic farming practices as we do.
John Fetzer planted this amazingly beautiful Sauvignon Blanc vineyard, named after John’s mother, when he was in high school in the early 1960’s or, as he explains, sometime in the middle of the Jurassic period. Sauvignon Blanc vines typically do not usually survive 50 or more years. Kathleen’s Vineyard is still producing great fruit not because of what has been done, but because of what has not been done. The vineyard has no fencing and no irrigation. It is not tilled and has never been sprayed with a pesticide or herbicide.
Minerality is an abused word in “wine speak”, but it is an entirely appropriate term for the bright and soulful Saracina Sauvignon Blanc that comes from this very special vineyard. It is easy to understand why Sauvignon Blanc was chosen as the first varietal to be bottled under the Saracina label in 2001.