The eighth annual California Green Medal Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Award winners have been announced during Down to Earth Month, a celebration of California’s sustainable viticulture and winemaking. Presented by several California wine organizations devoted to sustainability, four Green Medals have been presented in the following categories: Leader, Environment, Community and Business.
“It’s a pleasure to recognize the California wine community’s cutting-edge leaders in sustainability through the California Green Medal Awards,” said Allison Jordan, California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance’s (CSWA) Executive Director. “Their stories illustrate the perfect synergy between growing exceptional wine grapes and crafting premier wines with an enduring commitment to resource conservation, environmental protection and quality of life enrichment for their employees and community.”
Winners of the 2022 California Green Medals are:
LEADER AWARD, given to the vineyard or winery that excels in the three areas of sustainability — Environmentally sound, socially Equitable and Economically viable practices.
Winner – Wente Family Estates
Located in the heart of Livermore Valley, Wente Family Estates is a multi-generational vineyard and winery deeply rooted in sustainability, with a 139-year commitment to the land and people. As a Certified California Sustainable vineyard and winery, Wente takes conserving resources and building soil health seriously — using no-tillage methods to sequester carbon and build organic matter while minimizing compaction, grazing to control grasses, and returning harvest waste to the soil as compost. Wente uses sensors to monitor vine water needs and reuses all treated winery water in the vineyard.
They also have two all-electric Monarch tractors and use lightweight glass bottles to reduce their carbon footprint. Wente has made it their mission to enhance the communities in which they live and work.
Employees receive eight volunteer hours annually and matching contributions for their charitable donations. Wente Foundation for Arts Education has donated over $1 million to school arts education programs since 2012, and its Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary certification ensures wildlife habitat protection. The winery also educates customers by sharing its sustainability story throughout the entire consumer experience, starting with lightweight bottles that include the sustainability certification logo on its wine labels.
ENVIRONMENT AWARD, given to the vineyard or winery that best demonstrates Environmental Stewardship through maximized environmental benefits from implementing sustainable practices.
Winner – Trefethen Family Vineyards
Located in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley, Trefethen Family Vineyards is demonstrating outstanding commitment to the environment through their comprehensive approach and multiple certifications — Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing, Fish Friendly Farming, Green Business Program and Napa Green. The winery’s water system recycled almost two million gallons of water for vineyard use in 2021.
The family uses mechanical weed control practices along with an integrated approach to growing grapes, and encourages biodiverse predators such as beneficial wasps, owls, bats, bluebirds and hawks that help control insect and vertebrate pests. Less than 40 acres of the family’s 255-acre hillside property are planted to vine, preserving significant oak wildland. Working with local agencies, they restored a nearby stream bank to improve native Coho salmon breeding grounds.
Over 2,000 solar panels, EV vehicles and charging stations, and night harvesting are among the ways that the winery reduces greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels. The Trefethen family fosters an engaged team through its expanded employee education programs — including “Trefethen University” which focuses on topics such as waste reduction and energy conservation — and through the distribution of fresh produce from their garden. In 2021, the Trefethen family received a recycling leadership award for comprehensively addressing waste diversion throughout their operation.
COMMUNITY AWARD, given to the vineyard or winery that is a Good Neighbor and Employer using the most innovative practices that enhance relations with employees, neighbors and/or communities.
Winner – McManis Family Vineyards
Based in California’s northern interior, McManis Family Vineyards believes in community coming together to support a shared goal. The company regards employees as family, treating all employees to lunch every Sunday during harvest, and fosters a culture of respect through open communication. This unity extends to the community with wide support for local charities through donations and an annual toy drive where they collect over 2,000 toys for children each year.
During the pandemic, McManis made health and safety its number one priority, making hand sanitizer for first responders, and hosting public COVID-19 vaccination clinics that served hundreds of employees and neighbours. The winery also cares for the broader ecosystem, establishing a conservation easement to permanently protect native habitat and wildlife in and around one of their vineyards. It also implemented many practices to reduce its carbon footprint such as using electric UTVs and forklifts, solar, composting solid waste and recycling winery water.
With vineyards certified to LODI RULES and the winery certified to Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing, McManis helps educate other wine grape growers about the importance of sustainability and the value of certification.
BUSINESS AWARD, given to the vineyard or winery that best demonstrates Smart Business through efficiencies, cost savings and innovation from implementing sustainable practices.
Winner – Jackson Family Wines
With vineyards and wineries throughout California, including in Mendocino, Monterey, Napa, Santa Barbara and Sonoma counties, Jackson Family Wines embodies what it means to be a ‘smart business’ by connecting sustainable practices to efficiencies, cost savings and innovation. The goals established in its Rooted for Good: Roadmap to 2030 plan, launched last year, are fully integrated in its business model.
For example, decarbonization is part of the company’s capital expenditure plan, smart water management and efficiency are part of the vineyard redevelopment plan and social impact and diversity equity and inclusion initiatives are integrated into human resources and employees’ roles and responsibilities.
Recognizing that sustainability is not only important to protecting the environment and improving the lives of employees and communities, but also to the longevity of the business from an economic standpoint, the company invested over $18 million in sustainability efforts since 2015, which has resulted in over $29 million in cost savings stemming from energy efficiency, renewable energy, glass bottle light weighting and other innovations.
In addition to being certified to Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing, Fish Friendly Farming, Napa Green and Sustainability in Practice, Jackson Family Wines publicly committed to reducing the company’s carbon footprint in half by 2030 and becoming climate positive by 2050 without purchasing offsets. Attempting to have an impact beyond their own company, Jackson Family Wines co-founded the International Wineries for Climate Action to support other wineries across the globe in setting and achieving climate goals.