Soil Revitalization We use locally-sourced compost to return organic matter to the soil. This provides a reservoir of key nutrients to the vines; improves nutrient retention and uptake by plants; creates better soil conditions for root development and function; and results in a more favorable microclimate for plant growth. Composting also significantly improves moisture retention which benefits plant health while conserving water.
Cover Crops/Erosion Control We use cover crops of wildflowers and barley to prevent runoff and soil erosion during winter rains. Our cover crops also help keep soils loose and porous for root development, add to our organic matter levels, increase nutrient and water retention, and suppress weed growth. Cover crops also improve air quality by reducing dust from normal work in the vineyards.
Minimal Tillage We’re using new tillage tools with hydraulic innovation that is less disruptive to the soil. This achieves deeper water penetration and better incorporation of compost and soil amendment to root depth ― right where each vine needs it most. Vines now access previously untapped reserves of soil nutrients.
Soil/Plant Tissue Analysis Each year, we test soils at 1 ft. intervals up to 3 ft. in depth to determine soil health. We also conduct plant tissue analysis twice per year. Exceptional, fertile soils and thriving vines allow us to produce flavorful, balanced, high-quality grapes, year after year.
Soil Pits We also dig soil pits large enough to walk in for evaluating soil and root health. This provides valuable information for fine-tuning our irrigation scheduling as well.
Sustainable practices include using extreme efficiency in our irrigation methods — this saves water while improving vine quality:
Drip Irrigation We use pressure-compensated, drip line emitters on all vines ― these open and close automatically under varying pressures to distribute water evenly to each vine, greatly reducing water use.
Drought Measures During the recent, severe drought, we adjusted our pruning to what we can water. We will only grow what we can grow responsibly based on our water allocation, so we reduced our grape yield by 25 percent.
Solar-Powered Sensors for Irrigation Scheduling We utilize an on-site evapo-transpiration sensor/monitoring system, to receive site-specific readings using a cell signal to a web-based database. Using this reading along with other vineyard-specific info, the Tule system helps pinpoint our precise irrigation needs per vineyard block on a daily basis. Because these sensors upload data to the internet, we can remotely monitor crop water status to manage our 220 estate acreage with less water, less labor and less time.
Full-Time Observation We have a full-time employee who monitors the irrigation system and fixes problems and leaks immediately as they arise. Our viticulture team uses technology and constant field observation to limit water use to precisely what is needed.
Cleaning Barrels and TanksIn 2015, we changed our barrel and tank sanitation methods. Now, we steam clean our barrels at 220°F for three minutes and follow with a quick rinse. Steaming does a great job, and we’ve gone from using 30 gallons of water per barrel to only 5 gallons.
To clean large tanks, we’ve switched to a natural, environmentally-friendly compound that breaks down quickly and allows us to reduce rinse water from 150 gallons per tank to 50 gallons.
Solar PanelsIn 2009, we installed a 150 kilowatt solar panel system on the rooftop of our new, high-end, production facility, our state-of-the-art, small lot winery, and original winery and barrel room. These panels capture the sun’s heat for regulating the perfect temperature for the grapes and wines.
Refrigeration and Tank Temperature Control systems were selected for both sustainability and energy efficiency. Tanks are computer-controlled to ensure that unnecessary cooling capacity is not used. Energy efficient HVAC systems meet or exceed local standards.
Energy-Efficient Lighting Our winery, production facility, labs, barrel room, offices and break rooms have motion-sensor lights that automatically turn on when a door is opened and turn off with no movement. For outdoor lighting, we now use 80% less energy from having replaced our metal halogen lights with LED.
Fuel and Packaging EfficiencyWe’ve updated equipment with the latest in emission controls and fuel efficiency. Also, we now buy bottles in bulk instead of in cases. The bottles are delivered shrink-wrapped, and we assemble the cases on the bottling line. You can get more bottles on the truck that way, so it’s a more efficient way to get the glass to our facility – less traffic, less fuel and fewer emissions towards lowering our carbon footprint.
Natural PredatorsWe use owl boxes and hawk perches to encourage a self-regulating ecosystem of natural predators for vineyard prey and pests. We take precautions to control vineyard pests such as squirrels, gophers, deer and birds with eco-friendly, natural, safe and organic methods to protect the environment while simultaneously protecting the grapes for harvesting.
Ground Cover and GardensThroughout the estate, we provide plantings that attract beneficial bees and butterflies to promote pollination while giving them a protected place to thrive as well. We also plant for attracting hummingbirds and beneficial insects that help control unwanted vineyard pests.
Wildlife Here At HomeTo promote the welfare of native wildlife species in the area and preserve water quality, we maintain safe strips of land for runoff protection and native vegetation along the estate’s Arroyo Mocho Creek. When we find injured animals or lost little ones, we work with animal protection to provide the care they need.
Smart for the Environment/Smart for BusinessAt Concannon, we operate a large recycling center with three large compactors representing two recycle containers and one solid waste container. We recycle all of our own glass, plastic and cardboard. This also avoids adding unnecessary waste to our local landfills. Prior to our own recycling, we had to pay a substantial amount to have these materials picked up. Since 2009, however, the money we earn from selling the materials pays for the recycling center — a net zero.
Recycling Bins at the Estate 125,000 guests visit our estate winery each year, and all personal and picnic trash was going into the same barrel containers. Our tasting room manager, a member of our Concannon Green Team, is passionate about recycling and came up with a plan for setting out attractive, designated barrels for plastic, glass and paper. We started with our lawn area and have now set out recycling-specific barrels throughout the estate.
Happy Cattle As part of our sustainability practices, grape skins removed from grapes after gentle pressing are used for composting. For surplus amounts, we donate the dried grape skins to be used as a nutrient source in local cattle feed.
We started our “Green Team” to strengthen coordination of best practices in sustainability throughout our entire estate winery. Green Team members represent leaders from our winegrowing and estate hospitality teams who meet to identify and continually improve our efforts in green practices, conservation and preservation. We are also always looking for fun, inspiring ways to educate employees and guests about the myriad of benefits surrounding sustainable farming and living.
For lending a hand to our neighbors in need, please see Community and Philanthropy.