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Tree on the Hill


Sustainable Farming At Benovia

We're fortunate to live, farm, and make wine in Sonoma County where natural beauty and agricultural diversity make it hard not to be environmentally conscious. But it takes more than luck to keep it that way.

"We practice sustainable farming," says our vineyard manager Chris Kangas, "and that means we are environmentally sensitive and socially responsible when it comes to grape growing."

Benovia farms more than 71 acres of vineyards on three incredible sites within Sonoma County. Fifty of those acres were planted in the last three years. With vineyard development behind us, we've turned our attention to the responsibility that comes with being stewards of the land. Leading Benovia's sustainable farming program, Chris is well aware of the old axiom that great wines can only come from great vineyards. At the same time, he understands that farming practices have a huge impact on the future -- even for a winery the size of Benovia.

"We embrace our role as custodians of the land and look to integrate environmentally sensitive practices with all aspects of our wine growing," says Chris.

Benovia Winery owners Joe Anderson, Mary Dewane and Mike Sullivan embrace the concept of sustainable farming at all our vineyards, and take it a step further at the historic Cohn Vineyard. First planted in 1970, Cohn Vineyard is farmed organically, without the use of any herbicides or pesticides.

By farming with integrity and sensitivity to the environment, Benovia is expressing its responsibility to its neighbors, as well as future generations. It's also a commitment to our customers, who care about how grapes are grown, where their wine comes from, and how it's made.

Harvesting Sunshine



Benovia recently took our sustainability commitment to an even higher level when we installed 171 photovoltaic modules atop our winery. The solar panels produce some 60,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year -- about 90% of all the energy we need to power Benovia Winery's operations.

Besides dramatically shrinking our PG&E bill, it's estimated our solar panels will reduce CO2 emissions by 1180 tons over 25 years -- that's the environmental equivalent of more than 20 acres of planted trees.

with a rooftop installation of 171 photovoltaic modules that produce about 60,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year.
Besides dramatically shrinking our winery's PG&E bill, it's estimated our solar panels will reduce CO2 emissions by 1180 tons over 25 years - that's the environmental equivalent of more than 20 acres of planted trees.

Highlights of Benovia Winery's sustainable farming program:
  • Horticulture - We are farming Cohn Vineyard organically and we are seeking CCOF organic certification.
  • Composting - We use organic mulch and fertilizer for improving soil health and building organic matter.
  • Cover Crops - Each fall we seed our vineyard rows to prevent erosion and improve soil structure.
  • Soil Management - We match rootstock with varietals to prevent soil nutrient depletion, and we use no-till farming to retain carbon and avoid soil compaction.
  • Beneficial Insects - We encourage the presence of beneficial insects to prey on vineyard pests.
  • Owl Boxes and Raptor Roosts - We have erected 10 owl boxes to encourage native barn owl populations as predators for gophers and moles.
  • Water Conservation/Dry Farming Techniques - Careful irrigation practices allow us to control vineyard canopies which ensure small berries and concentrated flavors that yield the highest quality fruit. We allow for many vineyard blocks to be nearly dry-farmed as part of our efforts to conserve water.
  • Erosion Control - Each fall we "winterize" our vineyards to prevent erosion. This involves the use of cover crops, straw mulching, installation of water bars on roads, and maintenance of drainage systems.
  • Frost Protection - We use wind machines instead of water, a dwindling natural resource, to ward off frost.