Napa Valley, famous for its Cabernet Sauvignon and stunning scenery, is evolving. Behind the big-name wineries and rolling hills, there’s a lot happening to improve the land and enhance winemaking. Beyond the popular estates and restaurants, a quiet movement is gaining momentum. It’s about creating a deep connection between the vines, the land, and the environment while reducing environmental impact. We’re talking about innovative viticulture practices that, until recently, might have seemed unconventional in America. And then there’s the afterlife of wine, which is becoming an exciting focus too.

For the more discerning wine enthusiast, visiting those vineyards in Napa Valley that embrace biodynamic and organic principles offers a visit to wineries making wines that taste as good as they do because of their respect for nature, not despite it.

Biodynamics: A Symphony of Nature  

Biodynamic viticulture, which views the vineyard as an organism, promotes the use of certain combinations of preparations in order to balance soil life and encourage biodiversity. The preparations are made from natural ingredients such as cow manure and fermented teas, and given to the soil in order to energize its processes. There are various types of wine-growing practices that can be used in the vineyard. Conventional winegrowers use synthetic herbicides to keep the vineyard tidy and pesticides to prevent insect damage. Bio-dynamic wine growers will make their own preparations from manure and flowers of the valerian root and distribute them as often as required. 

Exploring the Benefits:  

Improved Soil Health: By encouraging more microbial organism activity in the soil, biodynamic practices improve water retention and nutrient availability for the vines. This manifests in the ‘vine’ plants in the form of healthier vines that are better equipped to withstand pests and disease.  

Biodiversity: There is a push towards a balanced property, to attract good insects and provide a healthy habitat for flora and fauna. The more biodiverse vineyard is therefore far more resilient.  

The Expression of Terroir: Some argue that biodynamic farming can result in a fuller expression of the vineyard’s terroir in the wine. It is thought that this is due to the greater focus on soil health, as well as on all the factors that act naturally in a complex ecosystem.

Organic Viticulture: A Return to Natural Practices  

In organic viticulture, the amount of synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers that can be used is minimal. Organ farmers often use natural methods such as cover crops, compost applications and biological pest control to manage the vineyard.

Benefits of Organic Farming:  

Decreased environmental impact: organic production practices do not use many chemicals, thereby reducing pollution of land and water.

Encouraging Biodiversity: As with biodynamics, when organic farming promotes healthy insect and pollinator populations and a balanced ecosystem overall.

Improved Grape Quality: Some consumers feel that organic grapes tend to be healthier and of higher quality as a result of the lack of synthetic chemicals.

Where to Find Biodynamic and Organic Vineyards in Napa Valley  

An increasing number of wineries in Napa Valley are practicing biodynamic and organic methods. Some examples are:

Cakebread Cellars: Napa Green certified since 2008, and biodynamic viticulture used on selected vineyard acreage.

Grgich Hills Estate: One of the few certified regenerative organic wineries, practicing growing methods that keep the soils healthy.

Robert Mondavi Winery: A frontrunner in sustainability, Robert Mondavi Winery practices organic farming in all of their vineyards.

Spring Mountain Vineyard: Organically farmed since 1981, Spring Mountain has wines with terroir from their ridge-top mountain location.

Trefethen Family Vineyards: Trefethen Family vineyards’ efforts for sustainability led it to achieve the Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing designation. They focus on biodynamic and organic practices to produce their fine wines.

Discovering the Future of Napa Valley Wine  

Visiting vineyards in Napa Valley that are worked biodynamically or organically in the upper reaches of Napa Valley today offers perhaps the best window into the future of wine, an opportunity for immersion in the rocky red hills, an understanding of the commitment of the passionate winemakers who care for them, and a revelation to taste wines that are the purest, most convincing storytellers on the plate.  

Platypus Wine Tours: Crafting Your Sustainable Wine Adventure  

People always have questions about wine, and at Platypus Wine Tours our goal is to answer those questions and explore the complexity of terroir while helping you to experience more than just the tasting room. We create join-in tours that immerse you in sustainable viticulture in Napa Valley. 

Imagine going to a biodynamic winery and learning about its preparations, witnessing how its workers go to such lengths to cultivate a healthy of vineyard ecosystem, and hearing how the wineries are working with their winemakers to develop a sustainably responsible future for Napa Valley wine. 

Beyond the Bottle: Creating Lasting Memories  

A tasting at a biodynamic vineyard in Napa Valley feels almost like a sacrament – not just a wine tasting, but a connection with philosophy of the land. The wineries of Napa Valley are just one of many destinations Platypus Wine Tours offers! 

We offer a variety of join-in tours, each catering to different interests and preferences.