What does it mean for wineries to go green? F&W’s Ray Isle investigates.

New Green Wineries

Vineyards around the country have found a multitude of ways to go green—not just by switching to sustainable or organic grape-growing, but by taking advantage of every other green initiative around as well. This includes everything from familiar ideas, like solar power and recycling, to oddball (but effective) ones, like using recycled blue jeans as winery insulation.

A Practical Choice

Aside from the philosophical reasons for going green, wineries can also save money—always a strong incentive. For instance, when Sonoma’s Rodney Strong installed more than 80,000 square feet of solar panels in 2003, the winery—which produces about 800,000 cases of wine per year—cut its electricity bill by more than 40 percent. To lower the cost of cooling and heating its winery buildings while it helps the environment, Napa’s Frog’s Leap reduces its reliance on fossil fuels with geothermal energy from “wells” dug 250 feet beneath the winery’s parking lot. Water circulates in a closed loop up and down through the wells, absorbing heat from the earth during the cold winter months and reversing the process during the hot days of summer.

Green Wine for Sale

More and more wines that follow eco-friendly production practices—many of which are organically or biodynamically farmed, too—are appearing on wine-shop, and even supermarket, shelves. Expect to pay high prices for some of these bottles, though. This isn’t because these practices are necessarily more expensive, especially since in the long run they often save money. Rather, with a few notable exceptions (Fetzer, for instance), boutique, small-production wineries have been at the forefront of this trend.

Here are 15 terrific “green” wines, along with descriptions of each winery’s strategy for helping the environment.

Star Selections

2007 Frog’s Leap Sauvignon Blanc ($18)

This longtime organic producer uses clean, renewable geothermal energy for heating and cooling its winery buildings. The 2007 Sauvignon Blanc is as crisp and juicy as ever.

2006 Sokol Blosser Estate Pinot Gris ($24)

Biodiesel-fueled tractors, LEED certification, solar power—Oregon’s Sokol Blosser is at the forefront of eco-friendly U.S. wines. Plus, it makes this delicious, nectarine-scented Pinot Gris.