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Green Winery: Rappahannock Cellars, Huntly, VA

Being Good to the Earth and the Grapes
Virginia Wine Lover

Okay, I really love drinking wine and certainly I do love Virginia wines -- but I’m a wine hack at best. And I literally know nothing about the real art of winemaking, the growing of the grape, the challenge and tribulations, etc. But what I do know is that every organization has the opportunity to “go green”. And when an organization really embraces a commitment to the reduce its impact on the environment, amazing things can happen. Introducing Rappahannock Cellars in Huntly, Virginia, just west of Warrenton in the foothills of Blue Ridge Mountains.

If you’ve been to Rappahannock Cellars, the visible signs of commitment are there – lots of recycling bins and compact fluorescent lamps and recycled-content bags and brochures in the tasting room. But behind the scenes is a commitment to the environment that runs deep – to the vine roots and throughout the entire winemaking process. There is an organizational commitment that is all about the health and welfare of the grape and the soil and the water and the air and the workers and the community. And most importantly, the consumer.

Rappahannock Cellars is essentially herbicide and pesticide free, and they’ve even been able to reduce their use of fungicides dramatically. They are striving to be chemical free. Cover crops in lieu of mowing help to train the vines to root deeper and be healthier overall. Additonally, cover crops encourage natural predators and balance which minimizes the need for herbicides and pesticides.

Waste Not. Speaking of balance, the vineyard composts all of its grape pumice from nearly 120 tons of grapes processed…and reapplies all of it on the vineyard!

Healthy Production: Quality and Efficiency. Ozone in the upper atmosphere is a bad thing. But in water, it’s an excellent sanitizer that dissipates quickly and allows the avoidance of chlorine and other volatile chemicals. Rappahannock Cellars uses ozone-injected water for many of its cleaning applications, thus greatly minimizing chemical usage. They’ve also been able to greatly minimize their use of Sulphur Dioxide through improved operational standards. Recently, they even switched to a lighter bottle, which uses less resources, and various other energy efficiency initiatives are now under way.

Why do they care so much? Certainly, it’s all about the grape. But guess what – they’ve also saved money! Now that’s green!