Soil manager Bobby Cannard and Fred Cline are extremely dedicated to sustainable practices. Nothing is more important than how we treat our vines; the wine we make is a direct result of what we put into the ground.
The Green String farming method developed by Fred and Bobby Cannard is a system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. These methods minimize pollution from the air, soil, and water, and optimize the health and productivity of soil, plants, animals and people. We make every effort to reduce soil erosion, and other harmful ecological footprints. Our self-nourishing system of minimal human intervention yields excellent quality crops.
We use over 1500 sheep and 500 goats to remove harmful weeds from our vineyards. Goats aren’t as picky about what they eat unlike sheep, goats will eat the leaves and berries from the vines, while sheep tend to stick to the ground cover. Our sheep and goats are brought out in February to March to clean the vine rows. Sheep alone are used in the summer months (July-September) to help leaf our vines so sunlight can ripen the fruit and to clean up the summer weeds on the land's surface. The animals are put out together once more in November to clean up any residues after harvest.
Cover crop is grown to feed the soil. We use a wide mix of different plants, some grow quickly while others take more time to produce organic material that is then folded back into the soil or is fed to our sheep. These systems are designed to stimulate the soil life, the life in which our vines are rooted in.
Annually we compost and renew all of the the digestible organic waste and materials from our winery: 3000 tons of grape pomace, the prunings from our trees and vines, and much of our paper goods. We turn this "waste stream" into biological stimulant and food for our soils.
Some of this rough compost is further digested with the aid of worms and is biologically proliferated in a forced arobic tea brewer. This tea is introduced to vineyards through the irrigation system and carries the broad spectrum indigenous matter to our vine's soils.
We utilize new crushed volcanic cinder with its wide spectrum of varied mineralogy on our vines, providing our vineyard soils with all the possible nutrients known to nature.
Currently we grind our own cinder, this rock is high in all the trace minerals which are necessary components to build fullness of character in our vines.
Pests come in all forms- but none are really truly pests, they are all indicators of the health of an ecosystem. The night owl and the day hawk are the predator of the gopher and mice and these predators maintain ecological control, just as the spiders swarm up on the grasses to the canopy of the vines feeding upon mites and leafhoppers.
The vine as all other organisms has a complete immunological system, if its nutrition is in balance it will not be sick, and it will not get bugs. We rely on nature to control our pests with no use of harmful pesticides.
Our one weakness which we have yet succeeded in understanding is powdery mildew, this we manage with bi-weekly applications of naturally mined organic sulfur free of contaminates at roughly 7 pounds per acre.
Cline went solar in 2005 to provide 100% of our annual electricity needs. The winery’s roof is roughly 50,000 square feet and supports approximately 2,000 solar panels, which improved air quality by reducing 690,000 lbs. of noxious greenhouse gases per year.
At the Green String Institute we work year-round with interns who live on the farm and learn the Green String method for 90 days from the ground up. A combination of lectures, demonstrations, and hands-on farming assist future generations to cherish and care for the earth and its bounty while nuturing humanity.