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Sustainable Farming

The vineyard philosophy at Groth isn’t a lofty abstraction; it gets right down into the details.  “Each and every vine is managed for its individual needs.” says vineyard manager Ben Benson.  “We prune, thin shoots, or leaf pull for balance throughout the vineyard so that all the grapes have uniform ripening and optimum maturity.”

More often than not, the same practices that promote grape and wine quality also have an environmental payoff.  When Groth replanted, the orientation of the vine rows was changed from cross valley to follow the natural direction of the Napa Valley.  This allows the breezes that come up the Valley from the San Pablo Bay to flow more easily through the vineyards.  The result is increased air circulation, less mildew and rot on the vines and consequently less need for spraying fungicides—better for the wine, better for the environment.

Preserving natural resources is also a key element of sustainable farming, one step further than organic farming.  Sustainable farming practices take into consideration its effects on the whole environment and upon the health of the entire watershed of the Napa Valley.  Water is precious in the state of California.  Encouraging cover crops not only helps establish a healthy insect population that battles ‘bad bugs’ it also preserves soil moisture.  “By encouraging cover crops we actually use less water, and we keep the tractor passes through the vineyards to a minimum,” say Benson.  We no longer use tractors to disc and hoe every weed in the vineyard.  “If you see weeds in the vineyards, it indicates smart farming and fewer chemicals,” says Dennis Groth.

Proper canopy management that lets more sunshine get to the grapes promotes riper flavors, and also discourages the population of destructive insects, like leafhoppers, reducing the need for pesticides.  Benson focuses on balanced vines—making sure that vines are spaced, pruned, trellised and irrigated in a way that produces just the amount of fruit the plants can ripen, no more, no less.  Besides promoting uniform ripeness, balanced vines ultimately require less work—fewer tractor passes, less fuel burned, less soil compaction.

Preserving the land is not only good for the grapes; it’s good for sustaining the family-owned business at Groth.  Dennis and Judy are proud of what they have accomplished and determined to pass it on.  “I’d like to think my kids could make great wine forever off this property,” says Dennis.