Earth Day (April 22) is a great day for embracing environmentally friendly practices, from recycling to sustainably farming. Turns out it’s also the perfect time to celebrate well-made, thoughtfully-produced California wine.
Indeed, April is also California Wines: Down to Earth Month. Now in its seventh year, the celebration hosted by the Wine Institute highlights California wine county’s commitment to the environment and sustainability practices. California has plenty of reason to celebrate: the state is a global leader in sustainable wine growing, with 127 wineries producing 211 million cases of certified-sustainable wine, as well as 1,099 certified-sustainable vineyards that encompass 134,000 acres.
“This year’s celebration also marks the first time that some of our wine will bear the new California Certified Sustainable logo,” says Robert P. Koch, President and CEO of the Wine Institute. That logo indicates that the wine was made in a certified winery where at least 85% of the grapes came from certified vineyards.
Happily, the month also includes plenty of ways to explore wine country and raise one’s glass to eco-minded winemaking. On Earth Day weekend, go to the Napa Valley town of Rutherford for the 50th Anniversary of the Agricultural Preserve (April 21), when you can tour the nation’s first agricultural preserve, established in 1968 to prohibit non-agricultural development—that site is also home to the historic Beckstoffer Georges III Vineyard. On Earth Day itself, the town of Napa will throw Earth Day Napa, a party at Oxbow Commons featuring exhibits, food, live entertainment, kids' activities, and plenty of wine, presented by Environmental Education Coalition of Napa County.
You can toast sustainable wine several more times this month, in a variety of great California wine country destinations:
April 21, Santa Cruz
Taste organic and sustainable wines from 50-plus area tasting rooms during April Passport Celebration Day—a quarterly event that also happens on the third Saturday of July, November, and January.
April 21, Lompoc
A lot of wineries in the Central Coast wine region use sustainable practices, and you can sample a lot of them at the 36th Annual Santa Barbara Vintners Festival. The one-day event features more than 100 wineries and 30 regional restaurants, against the backdrop of live music and cooking demonstrations.
April 21–29, Placerville
In this Gold Country area in the Sierra foothills, wineries such as Lava Cap Winery and Shadow Ranch Vineyard use sustainable, organic, and biodynamic practices. Taste their wines and many more at the 27th Annual El Dorado Wine Region Passport Wine Adventure, which runs over two weekends in Placerville.
April 27–29, Yountville
The foodie-magnet Napa Valley town hosts its annual Stags Leap District Wineries: Vineyard to Vintner, with open houses, cave tours, barrel tastings, and dinners by notable chefs, with some proceeds going to the Napa Valley Community Foundation.
April 27–29, Healdsburg
Come to this Sonoma County town for is annual Passport to Dry Creek Valley, with 40-plus wineries offering tastings, food, and wine pairings, and a vineyard tour that showcases local sustainability practices.