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Sustainable Wineries – Not just for weddings

The public’s growing awareness about sustainable food products has created a growing demand for organic wine varieties. Grapes are among the most chemically treated fruits in the marketplace. Organic vines are often healthier than chemically cultivated vines, yielding superior fruit resulting in wines with better flavor and bouquet. California’s numerous sustainable vineyards offer green choices for memorable private and corporate events.

The Ponte Family Estate in Temecula, Calif., is a sustainable wine estate that includes 300 acres of mature vineyards where 24 different grape varieties are farmed. Ponte Vineyards is a boutique winemaker that produces about 1,500 cases of each wine per year. The company’s motto is, “If you like it, it’s good wine.”

The vineyard is “managed under the strict sustainability standards set by the California Association of Winegrape Growers and the Wine Institute.” The vineyard has adopted a number of practices to make its operations sustainable:

  • Composting is an important practice for “returning organic material to the soil”;
  • The vineyard has stopped the practice of “discing,” or shallow plowing, allowing grass to grow between the vines, instead. “These plants loosen the soil allowing nutrient transport and beneficial insects to promote the health of the vines”; and
  • Ponte also reduces watering of vines during the ripening period. This practice saves water consumption while reducing berry size and thickening skins, resulting in increased wine flavors.

The company asserts that many of the qualities required to be a good farmer are the same as those required to run a sustainable business model. These qualities include “thriftiness, efficiency and respect for the land.” The Ponte family has found ways to implement sustainability in every aspect of their operation, from corporate culture to farming practices, to on-site energy usage and waste disposal. They provide a comprehensive checklist of its policies and programs on their website at www.pontewinery.com.

The estate has 10 different indoor and outdoor venues that may accommodate from 10 to 400 people. Facilities include state-of-the-art audio/visual equipment.

If you are looking for team-building or group activities to enhance your event, Ponte Winery provides a menu of unique activities. These include:

  • Wine tasting
  • Vineyard dinners
  • Grape stomp (Aug.-Nov.)
  • Hot air balloon rides
  • Vineyard hay rides
  • Painting in the vineyard
  • Blind cheese and wine tastings
  • Wine blending contests
  • Tuscan iron chef

All event catering and dining are sustainable as well. The Restaurant at Ponte is rated a top 50 restaurant for outdoor dining in the U.S. The menu is derived from local, sustainable farmers, growers and ranchers. Kitchen waste is composted and the facility does not use plastic to-go containers.

Event attendees may also enjoy guest accommodations right on site. The Ponte Vineyard Hotel was rated one of the top 10 vineyard hotels in the world by American Express’ Departures Magazine. Every room offers a private patio or balcony overlooking the vineyards.

Many efforts have been made to make the Inn a sustainable operation. First, the Inn was built with an orientation to limit sun exposure to the rooms. Then, deciduous trees were planted along the west side to create natural shade. Fixtures and policies limit energy and water usage. The facility uses only sustainable and organic suppliers and products. The hotel also donates to the Clean World soap recycling program.

The Ponte Winery explains its commitment to sustainability this way, “We strive to be great stewards of the land, and to produce wines with the flavors typical of our area….”

Green Tip:
If you are looking for a destination like this one in your part of the country, consult Greenopia’s directory of sustainable United States wineries at www.greenopia.com.


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