Sustainability in the Vineyards


In wine growing, the word “sustainability” gets bandied about frequently. So, what’s it really mean? Obviously, sustainability is the ability to continue on…to endure. So, with wine growing the term will usually mean that the grower uses farming methods that are least likely to harm the environment in general, and the farm in particular, so that it may ‘live long and prosper.’ But, philosophically, it actually goes well beyond that basic premise.

Sustainability in wine growing will normally involve both biological and philosophical approaches – such as organic farming or biodynamics, each of which is intended to conserve natural resources, protect and restore natural habitats, and protect the health of those doing the farming, and their neighbors and customers. It’s a lofty goal, but one that makes plenty of common as well as practical sense. So, how does one practice sustainability at a winery or vineyard? We’re glad you asked!

Join us as we talk with Jon Ruel, Director of Viticulture and Winemaking at Trefethen Vineyards, about the differences between terms like sustainably farmed, organic, certified organic, and biodynamic. As a family farm in Napa Valley for over 40 years, Trefethen has been making conscious decisions concerning long-term sustainability.

For more information on Trefethen Family Vineyards:

Sponsor: 7th Annual Celebration of Food and Wine :

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Show #269
(58:09 min 41MB)

4 Responses to “Sustainability in the Vineyards”

  1. 1 Doug Smith May 18th, 2010 at 6:26 am

    Interesting show, guys. Enjoyed hearing Jon’s take on running a sustainable vineyard site in a reasoned, responsible manner.

    It might be interesting to discuss the difference between being organic and using something like lutte raisonée, which is not strictly organic but which advocates the use of artificial chemicals only when necessary. It’s not clear to me that natural chemicals are necessarily inferior or more dangerous than artificial. They can’t be when they are chemically identical. For another example, copper sulphate may be entirely natural, but is quite damaging to the soil environment and does not degrade over time. On the other hand, certain artificial chemicals like glyphosate are quite safe. (There may be ways to run a vineyard where one would not need to use glyphosate, but that’s not my point).

  2. 2 Todd Trzaskos May 27th, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    Great show guys…glad to hear the mention of Fukuoka, his work is underappreciated. Way to dig below the surface of the subject, and discuss in such a way that will help folks understand the shift in thinking that is required to make sustainability feasible.
    When I was in the environmental program at VT Law School 20 years ago, we earnestly discussed the concepts and logistic of sustainable agricultural, and industrial practices ( over many glasses of wine ), and wondered how long it would take for the ideas to become mainstream. Let’s hope that the integration picks up more speed.

  3. 3 Justin May 28th, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    Floored. Wow, that was the best show i’ve ever heard on the radio(or in this specific case, itunes). Awesome guest, Jon has an amazing ability to speak intelligently, calmly and convincingly. And great hosting too — way to let the star speak; and did Jon ever!!!! I know not the words to convey my admiration for Jon, and his … one day, i hope one day to be able to sit and share stories over glasses of wine.

    Thank you.
    Thank you very much,

  4. 4 GrapeRadio Bunch May 31st, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    I must confess that I love this subject. Maybe I was a vineyard worker in a previous life. I plan to explore the subject again in future.


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