Through a program of onsite mitigation and carbon credits, Mendocino's Parducci Family Farmed has become the first U.S. winery to achieve "carbon neutral status." The winery partnered with the California Climate Action Registry to calculate emissions of its greenhouse gases. It then took measures to mitigate and offset those emissions.
The registry helps companies and organizations with operations in California establish emissions baselines against which any future reduction requirements may be applied. This is being done in preparation for new laws aiming to roll back emissions in California to 1990 levels.
Parducci is part of Mendocino Wine Company, which during the last three years has implemented "mitigation" practices, including a solar installation, an energy-efficiency audit in partnership with Pacific Gas and Electric Company, switching to biodiesel in company vehicles and farm equipment, converting from incandescent to fluorescent lighting, and a local tree-planting program.
The winery has taken additional steps to "offset" emissions by purchasing emissions credits, working with: Three Phases Energy Services, which manages methane capture, renewable energy and sustainable forestry projects; Bonneville Environmental Foundation, which manages wind, solar and tidal power generation projects, focusing on small communities; and Native Energy, which manages wind, solar, biogas and methane capture projects.
Parducci is sponsoring a portfolio of "carbon programs" focused on methane and biogas capture, wind power and forest projects within its own bioregion. Partners must have proven track records and independent certification.
"The greatest challenge we face in the world today is global warming," said Mendocino Wine Company co-owner Paul Dolan said. "All of us, individuals and businesses, must do all we can to meet this challenge."
Dolan frequently speaks on green business topics and is the author of True to Our Roots, Fermenting a Business Revolution.
Mendocino Wine Company's vineyards are certified Biodynamic, Organic, or Fish Friendly Farming and the company's packaging uses tree-free and recycled papers printed with soy-based inks. Reduce-reuse programs include on-site vineyard composting, water conservation and water recycling projects.
There's already a general perception that wine is "green" as it comes from the earth, but at least two major wine producers are poised to emphasize green practices as a differentiator. Fetzer Vineyards (where Dolan previously served as president) is launching a marketing campaign emphasizing its commitment to the environment while Rodney Strong Vineyards recently test marketed neck hangers emphasizing its commitment to solar energy.
"We're just trying to demonstrate that it's possible to offset your carbon, isn't too terribly expense, and that it's doable," Dolan said.
Wearing his hat as the current president of Wine Institute, Dolan noted that California wineries have been leading the way in the discussion of sustainability. "The wine community is very open to looking at solar power and carbon neutrality because we've gone through a lot of discussions in building the Code of Sustainable Practices. Wine has been very progressive and it goes back to WineVision, where one of the platforms was to be a leader in sustainable winegrowing."