This post was written by GoingGreenDC.net contributing writer Alison Drucker.
If you like wine, go straight to the source and attend a tasting at a Virginia or Maryland winery. Satisfy your green conscience at the same time by paying a visit to one that’s environmentally friendly.
The local wineries here all follow organic practices to the greatest extent possible, using minimal chemical pesticides and herbicides and eradicating pests using biological controls.
Certified organic wine – wine that uses organic grapes – is impossible to produce in this area; local vintners report that due to the humidity and rainfall, vines in the region are prone to fungus and pests that are immune to non-chemical treatments.
These wineries have also constructed energy- and water-efficient facilities that incorporate salvaged materials and innovative design strategies.
At Black Ankle Vineyards, the tasting room features straw-bale insulation and wood harvested from the site, plus a bar made from crushed grape vines. The growers use sprays and fertilizers made from herbs, compost, and minerals, rather than chemicals, and follow the principles of biodynamic farming – a step up from organic on the sustainable ladder. Plus, their tractors are powered using biodiesel. Deep Creek Cellars also uses mostly organic and biodynamic farming methods.
Pearmund Cellars’ facilities are heated and cooled using a geothermal system that draws from the Earth’s natural thermal energy. Barrel Oak Winery’s dog-friendly facility also uses geothermal energy and a highly efficient natural ventilation system; plus, all of its wood flooring was salvaged from an 18th century farmhouse.
The famous owner of Blenheim Vineyards – Dave Matthews – hand-sketched the design for the winery building, which was constructed from reclaimed wood and is strictly naturally lit during the day due to its daylight-efficient design. Cave Ridge Vineyard reuses their barrels and uses biodegradable products whenever they can, and the tasting room was constructed using sustainable wood. Rappahannock Cellars also reuses barrels and uses environmentally sensitive cleaners instead of noxious chemicals.
By drinking at these wineries (or at any of the other roughly 175 wineries in Virginia and Maryland) you can rest assured your wine hasn’t been shipped from overseas or trucked in from California. So go get tipsy locally, and with a lower ecological footprint.