California winery declared greenest in the US

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One of the oldest wineries in California and the first to become carbon neutral in the US has been recognized as America's greenest winery.

Parducci Wine Cellars out of Mendocino, California, will be given the 2011 International Award of Excellence in Sustainable Winegrowing at a gala ceremony in October where they will be recognized for their use of renewable energies, recycled packaging and water conservation efforts.

The award is hosted by the Botanical Research Institute of Texas or BRIT and was announced Tuesday.

Wineries are judged on an 18-point assessment of their sustainable winegrowing, winemaking and social responsibility practices in addition to the quality of the product.

The winery's signature series includes a 2007 True Grit Petite Sirah, described as having "heady aromas" of ripe fruit, white pepper, vanilla, blackberry, dark chocolate, pepper and caramel flavors.

Their 2008 signature Pinot Noir is described as having cherry and red berry aromas with a dash of tea-leaf spice.

The title of greenest winemaker is being conferred on a winery that recycles 100 percent of their waste water into an on-site wetland, and plants cover crops to reduce erosion, provide nutrients for soil and attract beneficial insects.

Their water conservation efforts also include a mulching program that enhances soil composition and water retention.

Their labels are made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper, and printed with soy and water-based inks.

The winery is also powered from 100 percent renewable energy, with the installation of 10,000-square feet (929 square meters) of solar panels that provide 15 percent of their annual energy needs. The balance is met with a certified wind energy supplier. According to their own calculations, the impact of the winery's green power use is equal to removing 172 cars from the road for a year, planting 242 acres of trees (98 hectares).

"We are most impressed with Parducci's strong commitment to the environment. Using certified sustainable winegrowing practices, 100% green energy, recycling 100% of its waste water, and being carbon neutral, Parducci sets a high standard for itself and the winegrowing industry," said Harry Bartel, chairman of the sustainable winegrowing judging committee.

Last year's winner went to Hall Wines' St. Helena winery in Napa Valley, for being the first in California to achieve Gold certified LEED-status.

Other sustainable wineries of note include a Canadian winery from the Niagara region, Stratus Winery, which was the first LEED-Certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) winery in the world. Buildings are heated and cooled using geothermal energy and built from recycled materials. Grapes are grown free of fertilizers, and the company car is a Prius.

Last year, the Unversity of California Davis claimed they built the greenest winery in the US for achieving LEED Platinum certification, the highest environmental rating with its $20 million, 34,000-square-foot (3158 sq m) winery, brewery and food-processing facility.

BRIT, meanwhile, is an international scientific research center in Texas focused on conservation of the plant world. Among its mandates is to use botanical solutions to address global problems like pollution and sustainable food sources.

For more info, visit http://www.parducci.com/ and http://www.brit.org/.

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