It would seem at first approach that Fetzer Vineyards has a personality disorder. After all they have many different brands under their large umbrella. Upon further inspection it is evident that there is a mission, a singular focus woven through each brand, each wine, like the spokes holding the umbrella together. And if you haven’t been paying attention you may have missed that Fetzer is changing the face of wine in California and beyond.
You may know Fetzer Vineyards for their many award winning wines. Or Bonterra as the 2016 Wine Enthusiast Magazine Winery of the Year. It is a winery’s highest honor to be known by their award winning wines. But that is only part of this story.
Since Fetzer began 50 years ago they have built there business on the belief that “what is good for the Earth is good for the grape, and what is good for the grape is good for the wine.” In fact, Fetzer has been a leader in sustainable winegrowing for over 30 years. As they celebrate their 50th anniversary, Fetzer is looking to a Net Positive Future. Fetzer wines are made from sustainable, organic, and biodynamic grapes. They are the largest winery in the world to be named a Certified B Corporation. As part of Vina Concha Y Toro, Fetzer and the additional ten California wineries under the Fetzer umbrella, took a brief pause last year to look at how far they have come in their environmental approach to winemaking, and what they hope to achieve in the coming years as they continue to be trailblazers in sustainable, organic, and biodynamic farming.
Their list of accomplishments is enough to fill a 25-page book. Here are a few highlights:
- Conversion to 100% organic farming in Mendocino County vineyards in the 1980’s
- Becoming the first US Vintner to operate on 100% green power in 1999
- Reporting and verifying greenhouse gas emissions to The Climate Registry in early 2005, the first US winery to do so
- First winery to achieve True Zero Waste Certification in 2014
- World’s largest winery to obtain B Corporation Certification in 2015
Fetzer’s commitment does not stop there. As they look to the future they have set a goal to be Net Positive by 2030, “by which time it endeavors to replace all negative impacts with positive impacts that enhance and regenerate ecosystems and communities while producing sustainable growth for its business and shareholders. Additionally, Fetzer reaches beyond its vineyards to be stewards of its employees and local community, because being a good neighbor is more than environmental it’s human.
More often wineries are becoming conscious to the environmental needs around them. But the economic question remains, does sustainable, organic, and biodynamic make good wine? Because ultimately if the wine is not good, the rest matters little. Fifty years of award-winning wine making speaks for itself, Fetzer Vineyards produces high quality, wallet friendly wines. This has been determined by consumer all over the world as well as critics such as Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast Magazines.
All this talk about viticulture is making me thirsty. Let’s taste a few wines from some of Fetzer’s labels.
2016 Fetzer Sundial Chardonnay California ($10): This wine balances between the idea of oaked vs unoaked; medium gold; medium aromas of tropical fruit, crème brulee, citrus, cinnamon, toast, and vanilla; the palate is creamy but acid driven; winemaking practices involved warmish stainless steel fermentation to bring out tropical notes, maturation done in stainless steel and a mix of French and American oak to impart complexity and texture on the palate without overwhelming the fruit; mission accomplished. Click here for more information.
2015 Fetzer Valley Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon California: Deep ruby; medium+ aromas of black cherry, black currant, black berry, dried violets, baking spice, toast, and black pepper; full body with medium+ tannins, medium acidity, added palate complexity from maturation in part stainless steel and part French and American oak. Click here for more information
In the fall of 2016, Wine Enthusiast Magazine selected Bonterra Winery as their Wine Star Winery of the Year. It is the only time a fully organic winery has been selected. According to Jim Gordon of Wine Enthusiast, Bonterra was chosen based on their “outstanding quality wines, fast-rising popularity among consumers, and leadership in environmentally sensitive grape growing.” To learn more read my article, “Bonterra Vineyards: Honesty & Transparency Reaps Rewards.”
2015 Bonterra Vineyards Merlot Mendocino County USA ($16): A blend of 100% organic Merlot with a touch of Malbec and Petite Sirah; deep ruby; medium aromas of cherry, black berry, red and black plum, baking spice, dried roses, toast, licorice, vanilla; supple mouth-feel, balanced tannins with acidity, full body, medium+ finish; an elegant Merlot with soft notes from 12 months gaining in French and American oak; over-delivers for the price. Click here for more information.
Has it ever occurred to you that wine is like perfume? Margaret Leonardi, part winemaker part alchemist, is hoping that with Adorada Wines you will make that connection. With her inaugural release, Margaret has sought to capture the Eau de California in every bottle. “We crafted these wines to exhibit the evocative floral aromas usually associated with fragrant perfume,” said Margaret. “We wanted to change things up a bit – to balance the kiss-stained hue of our rosé with an unexpected nose of spice and botanicals, to bring aromatics front and center in a typically understated varietal like Pinot Gris.” I must confess when I received the box and opened it I felt like I was opening a box of Channel perfume. These wines are all feminine and make a great addition to bridal or baby shower, Mother’s Day, or summer sipping by the pool Grab a glass ladies.
Adorada Pinot Gris California USA ($19.99): aromatically it is like a basket of fresh fruit; apples, pears, lemons, limes, grapefruit, ripe melons, with acacia and jasmine and trailing notes of dried ginger; crisp and refreshing, dry but a kiss of sweetness makes it quite food friendly; the wax looks great but it’s quite a chore to open. Click here for more information.
Adorada Rosé California USA ($19.99): this wine smells like summer; strawberries, cherries, Watermelon Jolly Rancher, raspberry crème, orange blossom, and savory herb zest; also dry with a kiss of sweetness, crisp, refreshing and totally fun. Click here for more information.