Vivid Producer of the Month: Robert Mondavi Winery
Robert Mondavi Winery isn't just one of Napa Valley's most prestigious producers, it also holds the title of North America's Best Vineyard, according to the 2021 World's Best Vineyards awards. And at the core of everything its team do - from people, to planet, to place - is sustainability.
An innovator in the sustainable farming movement, the Robert Mondavi Winery team have worked extensively on developing their sustainable farming techniques. The winery was one of the founding members of the Napa Sustainable Winegrowing Group (NSWG), set up in 1995, which now holds annual workshops on issues around sustainable winegrowing, such as water conservation, cover cropping, and Integrated Pest Management techniques.
Grapes grown at Robert Mondavi Winery produce some of the region's best wines
A rich heritage
Robert Mondavi established his eponymous winery in 1966, with a vision to create Napa Valley wines that would stand in the company of the world's finest. He chose To Kalon vineyard, in the heart of the Napa Valley, as the home for Robert Mondavi Winery. This first-growth vineyard, located in Oakville, California, is renowned for producing some of the finest Cabernet Sauvignon wines, as well as Sauvignon Blanc, from which the signature Fume Blanc was created.
Robert Mondavi Winery is a Napa Green certified winery. In partnership with the Napa County Resource Conservation District, the team created the Napa Sustainable Winegrowing Group (NSWG), and was the first winery to receive an Innovator Award from California's Environmental Protection Agency.
As part of its commitment to protect the environment and global communities, Robert Mondavi Winery is committed to effectively reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and energy consumption, while reducing any negative climate change impacts. Each year since 2009, it has submitted a climate change and water response to CDP, an independent not-for-profit organisation that gives investors insight into companies' GHG emissions, water usage, strategies for managing climate change and water risk. In 2017, it was included in the CDP Leadership Index for best practice actions around water management.
The To Kalon vineyard in Napa Valley, California
Action for good
Looking after the local environment is a key part of Robert Mondavi Winery's sustainability focus. This includes protecting riparian habitats for several plant and animal species on the winery's property, along the Mokulumne River, including enhancing the levees of the process water ponds. It also participates in, and is certified by, California Fish Friendly Farming - a certification programme for agricultural properties to restore fish and wildlife habitats and improve water quality.
At the winery itself, the team have implemented a single-stream recycling programme and installed a plastic bailer, resulting in a more than 60% reduction of the winery's solid waste sent to landfill in the first year. The winery's treated process wastewater is recycled for vineyard irrigation, and rain and well water are used for landscape irrigation, resulting in monthly water savings.
Robert Mondavi Winery has further invested in several energy-efficient projects: the insulation of wine tanks; installation of an on-demand Glycol system; replacement of air compressors with on-demand Variable Frequency Drive (VDF) units; use of more efficient pond aerators; and the installation of high-efficient LED lights. All of these have resulted in more than 20% ongoing reductions in energy usage.
The winery's eponymous founder Robert Mondavi
All together now
As interviewed by Jess Broadbent for our Fine Lees magazine, chief winemaker Geneviève Janssens feels it is the wine industry's responsibility to work together on sustainability, and move with consumers' changing preferences. She says, "It is inspiring to see sustainability at the forefront of people's minds, even beyond those working in agriculture."
"We are seeing more consumers becoming interested in sustainability and more willing to invest their dollars in sustainably-produced products. As an industry, we need to work together, sharing resources and research as we have always done, to innovate for a sustainable future."