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Sunstone Vineyards and Winery, California – Bion Rice: President, Nick de Luca: Winemaker

April 11, 2012

Why do you do what you do?  Simply put, because it is the right thing to do. Anything less than organic, especially in sunny California, is a cop-out. Furthermore, before long, it will be the only thing that remains viable.

How do you do it?  Organics is very simple and involves, in many regards, less work than conventional agriculture. There are certain products that must be avoided, and, of course, the biggest problem is weed control. But once you have a decent method for mechanical weed control, and you’ve focused on building up soil health through the use of cover crops and compost, the system becomes somewhat self-regulating. We experience very little disease pressure, and what we do have can easily be controlled with sulfur and potassium bicarbonate–both approved as organic means of mildew control. Our soil is healthy and, consequently, the vines require little supplemental nutrition throughout the growing season. For the most part, everything is in good balance and looks after itself.

What obstacles have you overcome?  The biggest obstacle is regulatory. The various regulating authorities can be, at times, adversarial–apart from the CCOF–and culturally, the idea of organic viticulture is still regarded as somewhat marginal.

Are you happy with your work?  Growing grapes and making wine is a lot of work. If we weren’t happy with what we do, it wouldn’t be worth doing in the first place.

Is it worth the effort? Absolutely. The land is healthier and the wines are better.






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