Ironstone Vineyards has earned acknowledgement from the California Sustainable Winegrowing Program for demonstrating outstanding commitment to the environment, community and high quality grapes and wine.
But what does Sustainable Winegrowing really mean?
For John Kautz, who farms the grapes that go into Ironstone Vineyards, the winery he founded with his wife Gail, sustainable winegrowing isn’t a catch phrase. It’s a way of life.
The Kautz family is steeped in tradition with more than 50 years experience growing the finest wine grapes and row crops in California’s Sierra foothills and Lodi appellations. Ironstone Vineyards has intense, full-bodied wines in its Reserve collection and modern, fruit-forward wines in its Classic range.
In 1948, John Kautz founded John Kautz Farms and has received virtually every award and accolade possible, including the prestigious "Grower of the Year award" in 2012 from the California Association of Winegrape growers. Ironstone Vineyards, which opened in 1990, is one of the most-awarded, highly acclaimed brands in the world with a legion of fans in all 50 states and more than 50 countries.
Today, the fourth generation of the Kautz family is carrying on its legacy of excellence. Most family businesses don’t make it past the second generation. John Kautz Farms and Ironstone Vineyards not only have survived, they have thrived and will continue to do so for generations to come.
Why? Because from the day Gail and John put their vision into motion, they have based every decision on the concept of sustainability. They know: if you are going to run a multi-generation business, you have no choice but to think sustainably. And they have passed the lessons they’ve learned onto their children and their children’s children.
The John Kautz Farms team is on top of the latest practices and employs tried-and-true techniques only experience can bring to ensure a healthy environment by reducing water use, building healthy soil, maintaining and improving the neighboring wildlife habitat and fostering a caring workplace for their employees, some of whom have been with the company for more than 30 years.
Below are some of the vineyard practices that have sustained a
multi-generation success story.
This technique involves removing leaves around the grape clusters when the berries are about the size of a pea. This improves air circulation in the grape canopy, reducing the likelihood of
rot. This practice also exposes grape bunches to sunlight which significantly improves winegrape quality.
Ironstone Vineyards plants cover crops throughout the vineyards. Cover crops help reduce evaporation of water, decreases soil erosion, allows haven to beneficial insects and organisms, and when the cover crops decompose, they add organic matter back to the soil.
Adding compost, grape pumice (the remains of the grape skins, leaves and stems after the pressing process) or manure to the vineyard soil, reintroduces valuable nutrients.
OWL BOXES & RAPTOR PERCHES
Placing owl boxes throughout our vineyards increase their habitation. Perches allow for hawks, falcons and like predators to scout for vineyard vermin. These magnificent birds are necessary to naturally reduce the impact of gophers and voles which can cause extensive damage to the vines and their root system.
RIPARIAN HABITAT RESTORATION
Riparian ecosystems, the interface between land and water, are highly productive areas associated with creeks, streams, rivers and wetlands. They support more diverse and abundant wildlife populations. As caretakers of large portions of land, Ironstone Vineyards takes the responsibility to restore these valuable habitats which are incorporated into our vineyards. Through water bank stabilization, the removal of nonnative plants and the restoration of the
natural flora, these habitats now provide safe haven for many creatures.
Drip irrigation systems are beneficial in delivering water deliberately and more uniformly to the vines. Past practices in the industry included flood irrigation and the use of sprinklers. These poorly developed practices added to the over use of limited water resources. Drip irrigation lines can also be used to administer fertilizer and soil additives.
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