In a perfect world, one word such as "sustainable" would encompass the agricultural and forestry practices that we follow. But the real world is more complex, and here's your chance to make sense of the world we share with nature.
“I understand that 80 to 100-year old barrels are used to make your oak barrels. How do you ensure the sustainability of your barrels and the health of your source forests?”
Central Europe is home to some of the longest managed forests in Europe as well as the longest traditions of sustainability traceable to at least to Empress Maria Theresa’s 1769 Forestry Code (Sylvarum Conservadarum et Lignicidii Ordo.) The original forest code issued by Emperor Maximilian II as a “forest policy” (Constitutio Maximilian) in 1565 was a landmark in the history of regulating woodcutting and other forest activities. Its adoption marked the beginning of forestry as a controlled activity and helped to stabilize forests and forestry practices. The Code comprised 30 articles regulating various forestry activities, including cutting under supervision of experienced masters, felling practices, the storage of wood during the winter season, leaving seed trees, etc. Our cooperage pays the highest prices for older tight-grained oak, supporting a critical local economy and therefore creating the incentive for forest management over the very long term.
“How does elevation affect the use of pesticides and herbicides?”
Obsidian Ridge rests sits between 2,350’ – 2,875’ making it the highest vineyard in the Mayacamas Range and the North Coast of California. In short, the winter is colder and the growing season is drier and shorter than vineyards located on the valley floors (about 90% of all vineyards in the North Coast). As a result our appellation boasts the lowest pesticide and herbicide use of any region of California. For more information, you can dig into the data in this article from Practical Winery & Vineyard Management.
“I have heard that California doesn’t have enough water and therefore vineyards should be dry-farmed, rather than irrigated?”
The main issue with water in California is not how much of it is available, but rather where it is located. On average, our vineyards receive about 36 inches of rainwater per year. At Obsidian Ridge, this translates to approximately 235 million gallons of water that falls onto the vineyard and drains into the volcanic fissured aquifers below, each and every year. Our drop irrigation system extracts about one quarter of this water and drips it directly back into the earth, creating a sustainable loop of water use.