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Laurel Sheppard headshot

Bonterra Digs In, Reduces Carbon with Regenerative Farming

By Laurel Sheppard
Regenerative Farming

Regenerative farming is gaining traction as it emerges as a viable option for those in agriculture who see economic opportunities in doing their part to address the climate crisis. One company embracing regenerative farming is California’s Bonterra Organic Vineyards, which recently concluded that this practice stores more carbon in the soil than conventional farming methods.

Bonterra is aligned with other wineries that are exploring a switch to organic practices, reducing their water footprint and using other forms of packaging in the name of sustainability and efficiency.

TriplePundit recently interviewed Elizabeth Drake, Bonterra’s regenerative development manager, to find out more about Bonterra’s shift to regenerative farming as well as to discuss the winemaker’s other sustainable practices.

TriplePundit: Tell us about Bonterra’s farming practices.

Elizabeth Drake: At Bonterra, we use regenerative farming on nearly 1,000 acres in Mendocino County, California, which goes above and beyond requirements for organic farming. Our 960 acres of farmed vineyards are certified organic, with more than 250 of these acres also certified as “biodynamic,” a certification requiring many regenerative practices. We also have preserved nearly 1,000 acres as wildlands.

Bonterra first embraced organic farming practices or grapevines beginning in 1987, with the first “made with organic grapes” wine debuting in 1993. With total annual case production nearing a half million nine-liter cases, the Bonterra brand has grown 69 percent since 2012. Today, Bonterra’s products include the Organically Farmed Collection, the Biodynamically Farmed Collection and the Elysian Collection Merlot, featuring wine made from hand-selected lots organically farmed.

3p: How does regenerative farming benefit wineries such as yours?

ED: Today, regenerative farming includes many new advances in agriculture, like research into integrated pest management and cover cropping methods, improvements in irrigation technology, among others. These advances help increase soil fertility, drought resilience and biodiversity levels, while supporting soil’s natural ability to reintegrate carbon from the atmosphere.

3p: What are the next steps for Bonterra?

​​​​​​​ED: We are examining methods to conduct additional soil sampling to analyze vineyard carbon storage and carbon fluxes over longer periods than those covered by our initial study. Ultimately, we are interested in continuing to better understand and share findings detailing how vineyard management choices contribute to soil health and help combat climate change, in hopes that we can inspire others to join us in adopting regenerative practices.

3p: How are you going to promote such regenerative practices?

​​​​​​​ED: We continue to work with grape growers in California to offer information and support as they transition to organic grape growing. In doing so, Bonterra is building a network of collaborative farms and helping to spread climate-smart, organically farmed acreage in the state. Bonterra believes strongly that regenerative farming practices offer compelling solutions for healthy soils, improved vine and grape quality, and a positive path forward for the farming community and climate health.

Image credit: Bonterra/Facebook

Laurel Sheppard headshot

Laurel has extensive experience writing about energy efficiency, clean energy, sustainability and green building. She was formerly Senior Energy Content Specialist for a digital marketing firm serving the utilities industry where she generated story ideas and wrote content for several e-newsletters. Laurel is also a member of the Ohio chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council and participates on several committees for the Central Ohio region. 

Read more stories by Laurel Sheppard