Over the past few years, there’s been a lot of discussion in the conservation community about ecosystem services. It’s a pretty abstract concept that is being brought to life at the Benziger Family Winery in the Sonoma Valley.
The winery is one of a small handful of Biodynamic producers in the world. It’s basically an organic winery that takes it one step further by farming with the rhythm of the both the sun and the moon. The result is a tasty glass of wine that is also good for the land.
Almost everything that makes up the wine in your glass comes directly from the earth in this beautiful corner of the valley. Soil fertility is maintained through cover crops and composting the clippings from the vines. All the water used on-site is filtered through a series of ponds that clean it up before recharging it into the groundwater. Insect gardens located throughout the property attract beneficial bugs that keep invaders at bay. Bird boxes help keep rodents at bay. Even the aging process takes place in a series of caves dug into the hillside that keep the casks cool as they age.
To be clear, this is not a natural ecosystem. But it is much closer to working with nature than most farms and vineyards.
While a conventional winery uses fertilizers, pesticides, wastewater treatment, and an air conditioning system. The Benziger winery uses nature to perform the same functions. It’s a great example of ecosystem services at work and shows how working with nature lessens our impact on nature.