As we approach our fifth year of operation, and we continue to receive suggestions from many of you, a recurring question comes up: Just how “green” is Ponte Winery? Despite the color of the tasting room, the answer is: not green enough! Since we opened in 2003, we have recycled our glass, cardboard cases and most office paper. We also control waste in our winemaking department and are careful with irrigation water-we are farmers after all. These easy measures are just common sense nowadays but they don’t go nearly far enough for a company like ours in the 21st century. Starting immediately, we are initiating a program to continuously reduce our “environmental footprint”, in other words, the overall impact our organization has on the environment. This effort will include all aspects of our operation, including our vineyards. Most of our efforts will be guided by the fundamental beliefs of sustainability: First, that many of our society’s activities are having a negative impact on the environment, which puts our continued well being and that of our children at risk. Secondly, that we are the stewards and caretakers of our environment and that we have a personal responsibility to manage our activities in ways that allow for the preservation of the environment for future generations-regardless of the perceived direct value of these activities to us.
To begin, we will actively assess our energy usage and implement a wholesale overhaul of lighting, motors and other energy wasting appliances. We will review our operating practices and install timers wherever possible to ensure that associates turn off lights, set thermostats properly, etc. We are also shopping for solar panels to help us lower our energy consumption to cool our new case and barrel storage building.
At the suggestion of some thoughtful Members we are researching two programs at the Tasting Room. To reduce the waste of packaging materials, we are looking into giving every “will call” member the option of using a Ponte logo reusable wine bag to pick up their Wine Club shipments. The savings will be invested back into more “green” measures at the winery such as an incentive program for associate car pools. Secondly, we will give anyone who brings back empty bottles of Ponte wine a $1 per bottle voucher valid on the purchase of Ponte wine (limit one voucher per bottle purchased). The Wine Club ladies are busy exploring a number of ideas such as printing exclusively on recycled stock, using environmentally friendly adhesive and shifting some of our marketing materials away from paper.
At the Restaurant we will eliminate the use of Styrofoam and will reduce disposables as much as possible. Chef Steve is now purchasing produce from as many local suppliers as possible. We are also exploring the use of discarded cooking oil from the restaurant to power our tractors.
At the Vineyard we will be following the “Code of Sustainable Winegrowing” published by the California Association of Winegrape Growers and the Wine Institute. I will list some of its highlights in a future article. Although this program is just starting, we are committed to continue making improvements in this area. As always we value your suggestions and look forward to hear your opinion about these efforts. As always, we hope you’ll come by, say hello and check out some of the more visible changes
by Claudio Ponte