“Sustainability” is how we describe our long-term strategy for a healthy and thriving business, without compromising the next generation’s ability to use and enjoy the natural resources around us. We take an integrated approach toward resource management, including land, water and air; as well as our employees and winegrowing community. As with our pursuit to improve our product each year, we are constantly seeking new and innovative ways to achieve this goal.
Keeping with our focus on innovation, Precision Farming is how we describe the broad array of technologies we use to understand and manage the acreage we farm. These technologies vary from small, handheld devices that measure a vine’s rate of photosynthesis and water loss to aerial infrared photography that measures microscopic differences in vine vigor across vineyard blocks.
Simply put, Precision Farming allows us to understand a vine’s water status in real time and make informed irrigation decisions, evaluating and quantifying variability in a vineyard block. The use of these tools centers on a continuous pursuit of the balanced vine.
Water Management – Vineyards
Through the use of technology and vine-based measurements we have significantly reduced our water usage. The benefits of deficit irrigation — which allows us to precisely control when and where to irrigate — are multi-faceted, preserving an asset in limited supply while also making better wine.
- Scientific tools, including sap-flow measurements and porometer readings, are used to measure a vine’s needs and help make informed irrigation decisions.
- Each vintage and vineyard block is different, but our water usage has trended downward for nearly a decade.
- To protect watersheds, we employ a variety of tools to ensure our runoff during the winter is free of silt and sediment.
The long-term success of our farming and winemaking operation relies on keeping soils healthy, productive, and capable of supporting vineyards that produce world-class wine grapes.
We participate in many third party certification programs, including:
- Living Building Challenge — Ongoing
- U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED)
- California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance
- Fish Friendly Farming
- Napa Green Certified Land
- Bay Area Green Business Certified
Our LEED Platinum Oakville Winery
Water Conservation – Facilities
Producing world-class wine requires a high level of cleanliness, which ultimately requires water. At our Oakville winery, water conservation strategies have resulted in an 86% reduction in irrigation and a 26% reduction in indoor water use.
We also use automatic pumpover devices, which not only save the backs of our cellar team, but create a closed system for each fermenting tank, meaning pumps and pipes are cleaned once every 2-3 week fermentation cycle, rather than several times per day.
Steam is an essential part of the sanitation process, which has the dual benefit of using much less water and being a better sanitizing agent. Swelling new barrels prior to filling requires a fraction of the 60 gallons per barrel it takes to fill with water.
Our Oakville winery features 1,464 solar panels, enough to power more than 35% of our annual energy needs. Since installation, we’ve reduced greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to what an average passenger car emits over 122 years.
Our wineries also use night-air cooling and thick insulation to minimize the need for mechanical cooling. Natural light illuminates our Oakville cellar, creating an environment with little need for artificial lighting most of the year.
Electric Vehicle Charging Stations have now been installed at all winery locations.
The Human Element
The quality of the grapes we grow is only as good as the quality of work put in by those on the ground carrying out the plan.
To attract and retain the finest vineyard workers at Silver Oak, we offer a competitive benefits package, with our full-time vineyard workers receiving 100% employer-paid medical, dental, vision and life insurance for themselves and their family, sick time, vacation and holiday pay, 401(k) opportunities, gifted wine, inclusion in company events and post-harvest bonuses.
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