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JL WOOD sustainable winemaking - we make every day Earth Day

JL WOOD sustainable winemaking - we make every day Earth Day

(In 2024, Earth Day is April 22th.)

Sustainable winemaking encompasses a comprehensive approach to production that prioritizes resource conservation, energy efficiency, and social responsibility during the entire process from grape harvest through to customer consumption. JL WOOD employs state-of-the-art technologies, best practices, and adherence to our principles to ensure that we produce wines of the highest quality.

We welcome being evaluated on our practices and judgments rather than politically correct word salad sound bites in an inconsistently enforced corporate policy statement.

First, all (100%) of the grapes used in JL WOOD Chardonnay are sourced from our own ranch. That enables us to say our entire production is sustainably produced. We don't use American or foreign sourced "bulk" wine where the consistent and appropriate use of sustainable practices may be inconsistent or a question.

We harvest our grapes with machines. Our entire home ranch can be harvested in five nights. Some may believe that to be heresy in the production of high quality wines. We like machines as they minimize the environmental impact of commuting employees to our location vs. hand-picked and they allow us to harvest within a very narrow timeframe, which is critical to harvesting the grapes when they meet our high standards.

How do we know that our harvested grapes are high quality and meet our standards? We perform chemical analysis and taste evaluations on juice samples every few days when they are close to being ready. We also "preselect" our grapes by having a trained crew enter our vineyards and remove any fruit that appears visually unsuitable in the ten days before harvest.

We also use advanced machines with the latest technology. They can sort through the berries in the field and ensure that only those of the highest quality are shipped to the winery.

We also believe in the economical transport of our wine grapes to the winery. We like to fill big bulk containers. We ship 22 tons per truckload consisting of four containers. We believe that this approach is more efficient and responsible than using micro-containers loaded by a forklift and transported on multiple small trucks.

We require gentle handling of our grapes arriving at the winery, implementation of procedures in the vineyard and winery to prevent and mitigate undesired microbial infections, temperature-controlled fermentation, and judicious use of oak aging, all of which contribute to the preservation of the fruit's natural flavors and aromas and minimize the need for extra winemaking procedures.

A key strategy: we have decided not to do whole cluster fermentation, which we consider an archaic practice resulting from hand harvesting. Plus we don’t believe the flavor of green stems contributes to wine quality. Only our berries arrive at the winery. The stems, known as the rachis, are removed by harvesting machines and left in our vineyards to compost naturally and contribute to nutrients in our soils. And over time, that helps reduce our need for the addition of chemical inputs.

We plan minimal movement of wine between tanks and barrels to minimize waste and the corresponding environmental impact from that waste as well as water and energy needed in the transfer process.

Our focus on minimal processing means that we are less reliant on winemaking materials that must be shipped from distant domestic and international producers. We also minimize mechanical filtration procedures; this allows us to reduce electrical consumption.

Packaging is a big area of focus for us.

Generally speaking, for years, one of our over-arching principles has been to minimize or eliminate inputs that incorporate plastics, which are usually made from fossil fuels and tend to stay in the environment after use.

Correspondingly, we have decided to retain the use of glass bottles rather than newly developed containers made from coated papers, complex adhesives, and plastic closures. We know that glass bottles are recyclable and usually accepted by municipal pick-ups. However, many plastics used in bag-in-box and their spigots are laminations or special plastics that are not acceptable in many recycling programs.

And yes, we've heard the self-serving argument that bag-in-box plastic components may have a lower carbon footprint. That's interesting but here's the question: Would you rather have pieces of glass bottles in landfills/the environment - or - slowly decomposing plastic components becoming micro-plastic pollution that can migrate into water supplies and the ocean?

The health implications of micro-plastics on animals, plants, and humans is not presently understood. That's why we enthusiastically support the campaign to reduce the usage of plastics.

We continue to use cork rather than switching to screw-top closures that incorporate plastics. We think cork is better as it is a 100% natural product and a renewable resource. While it requires shipping from a very distant producer, it is very light in weight.

We have shifted our purchase of glass bottles to producers with production facilities located in the USA. And, to minimize the usage of fossil fuels for transport of our bottles to and from the winery, we require that our bottles be under the weight of 500 grams (empty).

Also, we use standard labels. We do not use paints and coatings on glass as those things require trace amounts of complex chemicals and metals. Things that we don't want to linger in the environment.

Starting with vintage 2022, we discontinued the use of metal capsules in favor of bottles without capsules. And we further decided that we wouldn’t replace our capsules with plastic capsules. Many wine experts and consumers perceive the presence of capsules as an indication of higher quality wine. We decided that the technical need for them is no longer valid for most consumers even though our brand might suffer from that reduced (and cosmetic) perception of quality.

Plus, the clincher was that we discovered that very few recycling centers in the US are willing to process discarded metal capsules.

In conclusion, JL WOOD's embrace of sustainable winery practices represents a cornerstone of its commitment to producing wines of exceptional quality, character, and integrity under the JL WOOD Chardonnay labels. We make every day Earth Day.