I’m still bringing you stories of my trip to California Wine Country two months ago. While I was there I visited Rodney Strong Vineyards, and I was impressed with what I learned about the sustainable practices they employ. Rodney Strong’s Charlotte’s Home Sauvignon Blanc is one of my house wines – one of several reasonably priced, sustainably made wines that you’ll usually find on my home’s wine rack. It’s a wine I frequently serve to guests, so to get to visit the vineyards was a real treat.

If you take a look at the front of a bottle of Rodney Strongs Charlotte’s Home Sauvignon Blanc, you won’t see anything to set it apart from other wines as far as sustainability goes. If you turn it around, you’ll notice three phrases: Carbon Neutral, Solar Powered, and Sustainably Farmed.

I was taken on a tour of the facilities and part of the vineyard, and I can attest that those aren’t just empty claims. I walked up flights of steep stairs to get to the top of the facilities so I could see first hand the solar panels on the rooftops of buildings (pictured below).

I was taken to a field where I was educated about their certification with the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance. I learned about their eco-friendly pest management, soil conservation and water conservation methods.

I was also told about their Fish Friendly Farming certification, something I wasn’t familiar with. The program is run by the California Land Stewardship Institute and covers five counties - Mendocino, Sonoma, Napa, Solano, and El Dorado. Dozens of wineries, including Rodney Strong, are enrolled in the program and have earned certification.

You may be wondering why a winery would need to be fish friendly. Many of the wineries in California are near waterways. Rodney Strong, for example, is located in the Russian River Valley, and the river and many streams are nearby. What the winery does in its fields can directly affect the quality of the water and the health of the fish in it.

Through the use of soil conservation and cover crops and by restoring creek banks to their natural state by removing invasive non-native species and establishing native plantings, the winery helps to reduce soil erosion and provides shade for the native fish. In particular, steelhead trout and salmon are protected – two species that are endangered.

The more I learn about winemaking, the more I begin to understand just how important taking care of the entire ecosystem surrounding a vineyard is. And, the more I get to know the people who make wine, the more I realize that they not only love wine, they love the earth that nourishes the vines that they so carefully cultivate. Good winemaking and environmental sustainability go hand and hand. Rodney Strong Vineyards gets this.

Of course, I had the opportunity to taste some of the other varietals that Rodney Strong makes. The Charlotte’s Home Sauvignon Blanc is now not the only one of their wines you’ll find in my home.

Rodney Strong is open daily from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. for complimentary tastings of their Sonoma County wines and $10 tastings of their Estate wines. Throughout the summer, they have concerts at the vineyard. Still to come this summer are Dwight Yokum on August 4 and B.B. King on September 1. (I’d love to be there for B.B. King.)

Do you drink Rodney Strong Vineyards’ wines? Which is your favorite varietal?

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Rodney Strong Vineyards protects the land and the water
A visit to Rodney Strong Vineyards gives our food blogger the big sustainable picture of the winery.