The move to green for Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and WineryFerrari-Carano has long practiced sustainable farming techniques to help protect the land. Don and Rhonda Carano realized that to achieve their goal of producing memorable wines of outstanding quality, they needed to start in the vineyards and not focus solely on the winemaking. Inspired to meet their present goals while preserving the land for future generations, Don and Rhonda made the commitment to implement sustainable farming techniques from vineyard to bottle.
Environmental Certification Program Fish Friendly Farming
In 2006, Ferrari-Carano's Winery Estate Vineyard in Dry Creek Valley was certified by the California Land Stewardship Institute's Fish Friendly Farming Environmental Program.
Ferrari-Carano took great measures in implementing this program to help protect the watersheds as well as federally listed endangered species, such as Coho Salmon, Chinook Salmon and Steelhead Trout. These practices included removal of accumulated debris from human operations from the banks of Dry Creek, the planting of more than 600 individual native plants and trees, the removal of non-native vegetation from the banks of Dutcher Creek, and the addition of fish weirs to the creek to help fish maneuver through a vital portal in order for them to reach their spawning grounds.
Seven additional Ferrari-Carano ranches have been enrolled in the Land Stewardship Institute's certification program. The ultimate goal is that all 19 Ferrari-Carano ranches will be certified by 2010, and with given the location of these ranches, this certification will represent a significant portion of the Russian River watershed of Sonoma County.
Sheep and Cows
Integrating four-legged animals into the vineyards and surrounding land helps with Ferrari-Carano's goal to naturally enhance biodiversity and nutrient recycling. Baby Doll sheep an ancient breed measuring only two feet tall at maturity are used in the vineyard rows to graze on the green grass and weeds, turning them into natural fertilizer. This practice has decreased the use of harsh pesticides to eradicate weeds and grasses, as well as the cutting down on emissions to the air. Cows, steer and buffalo provide the same benefit to the surrounding land; increasing biodiversity while maximizing natural resources.
The addition of honey bees and nesting boxes, hawk perches and bird houses for various species that have been situated around the vineyard ranches, ponds and lakes are an integral part of Ferrari-Carano's sustainable program. Attracting desirable owls and bird species to patrol the vineyards decreases the amount of gophers and rodents that can pose a problem in the vineyard. Ferrari-Carano is fortunate to have eagles patrolling our mountain ranches. Estate honey bees are colonized to pollinate the herbs, flowers and trees on the properties, which in turn helps ensure a healthy landscape year after year. These bees will ultimately produce two crops of honey each year for Ferrari-Carano Estate Honey program.
In 2007, Ferrari-Carano vineyard began a native plant nursery to help with habitat restoration projects in an effort to better incorporate the vineyards into the fabric of the surrounding wilderness. The first step was an acorn collection program, whereby acorns were propagated and then will be planted in the winters of 2008 and 2009. Eventually, varieties of trees, shrubs and other natural species will be implanted, such as toyan, coyote bush, Manzanita, live oak, and California laurel bay.
Water conservation and energy consumption are primary concerns at Ferrari-Carano. One means by which Ferrari-Carano is making an impact in water conservation is through dry farming on all of our hillside and mountain vineyards. This not only conserves water and energy, but is actually beneficial for the vines, producing grape clusters comprised of tiny berries with intense concentration of fruit flavors. Unique trellising systems and a complex grapevine canopy management program combined with this dry farming practice ensures additional water and energy savings. In 2007, Ferrari-Carano decreased irrigation hours by 10 - 15%, in addition to irrigating at night to minimize water evaporation. The utilization of a mister delivery system instead of overhead sprinklers for cooling the grapes during intense heat spikes also allows for additional water savings per acre.
Biofuels are an alternative form of energy, in particular biodiesel, the use of which helps eliminate the release of harmful carbon dioxide into the environment. Biodiesel is biodegradable and non-toxic. All Ferrari-Carano work trucks and semi-trucks operate using biodiesel fuel, and as advances in technology makes them available, the winery plans to transition to other more environmentally-friendly fuels such as ethanol or the mixture of ethanol and gasoline known as E85.
Tree Sap Alternative to Asphalt-Paved Roads
Drive Ferrari-Carano's vineyard ranches and one would swear the roads are paved. In fact, they are, but not with the typical asphalt, gravel and concrete mixture. Lignin sulfonate, more commonly called tree sap, a by-product of pulpwood processing, is used in combination with crushed rock excavated from Ferrari-Carano's mountain ranches. Not only do the tree sap-covered roads act as a dust suppressant, it is a biodegradable product, thus no undesirable chemicals or compounds are washed into the vineyards and surrounding lands during and after a rainfall.
Natural Crop Nutrition
Ferrari-Carano ensures natural crop nutrition by recycling organic matter, such as discarded and collected grape stems, for use as mulch in the vineyards, and planting cover crops such as mustard, herbs, wildflowers and olive tree orchards. These practices have many benefits: use of mulch in the vineyard and planting of cover crops adds back desirable, rich, moist and long lasting nutrients to the soil and helps prevent soil erosion; the integration of desirable plants throughout the vineyards attract advantageous insects which helps to naturally resist pest and disease attacks from undesirable species.
Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery will continue to preserve, restore and enhance Sonoma County's rich, agricultural lands by being leaders in sustainable farming practices for future generations.