Agriculture has a unique opportunity to be a part of the climate solution. Best management practices optimize carbon sequestration, minimize greenhouse gas emissions and support water conservation. — Karissa Kruse, President of the Sonoma County Winegrowers
Agriculture has a unique opportunity to be a part of the climate solution. Best management practices optimize carbon sequestration, minimize greenhouse gas emissions and support water conservation. — Karissa Kruse, President of the Sonoma County Winegrowers
In Sonoma County, ‘Regenerative Agriculture’ Is the Next Big Thing
To Lauren and Alex Benward, sixth-generation owners of the Beltane Ranch vineyard in Glen Ellen, Calif., the word “sustainability” does not adequately convey the agricultural measures that they and many of their fellow vineyard owners have adopted in recent years. Steering clear of pesticides and industrial tillage is a no-brainer. They also use roving chickens to forage for pests, maximize soil fertility by planting cover crops like ryegrass and employ a herd of sheep — referred to as “woolly weeders” — to help fertilize the fields. Even the vineyard’s wine shipments reflect land stewardship: Bottles — recycled, with natural corks — are transported with carbon-neutral shipping.

This holistic approach to land management is called regenerative agriculture. It eschews conventional farming techniques and taps into composting, pollinator habitat restoration and other measures to encourage nutrient-dense soil. These practices also curb skyrocketing carbon emissions by coaxing nitrogen from the atmosphere and into plant roots, a practice known as carbon sequestration.

“Sustainability infers maintenance. We are focused on improvements,” said Ames Morrison, who also practices regenerative agriculture on Medlock Ames, the small estate vineyard he co-owns in Healdsburg, Calif. “By creating healthier soil, we make the land more resilient. We can turn the dial back on climate change by reducing greenhouse gases naturally.”

Indeed, mitigating climate change is the end goal. And while many wineries around the world are also implementing decarbonization measures, vineyards in Sonoma County are some of the earliest pioneers in the practice.

“Agriculture has a unique opportunity to be a part of the climate solution,” said Karissa Kruse, president of Sonoma County Winegrowers, a local trade group, which, like the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance and California Land Stewardship Institute, emphasizes environmental, social and economic sustainability in the region. “Best management practices optimize carbon sequestration, minimize greenhouse gas emissions and support water conservation. This matters locally as our multigenerational family farmers see themselves as caretakers of the land for the next generation.”
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/19/travel/sonoma-county-regenerative-agriculture.html