For some Virginia wineries, not only is it easy being green, it just makes sense. Farming grapes requires a great respect for the land, and many winemakers believe their operations should reflect a similar philosophy.
To recognize these wineries, a Virginia Green designation is awarded to wineries and cideries that incorporate organic and ecologically responsible practices. To learn more about what it takes to be a green winery, Savor Virginia chatted with Scott Eliff, the owner of DuCard Vineyards in Etlan, which received the honor of being named the Greenest Winery in Virginia.
Why did you decide to pursue a green winery designation for DuCard?
Some of the elements, like our extensive use of solar power, just make good sense. We use the sun to ripen our grapes, so what a delicious irony that the sun also powers our buildings. Like most things in life, it takes more time and effort and money to really do it right, but it’s certainly worth it if we can say we’re doing the best we can for the planet and operating all facets of our business sustainably.
What is involved in being named a green business?
Virginia is fortunate to have an official Virginia Green organization, conceived and spearheaded by fantastic volunteers and now well ingrained in the fabric of all Virginia tourism and hospitality—and beyond. The organization reviews a wide range of features and practices in determining the industry leaders—we do things like limiting chemical sprays, composting, using solar panels and re-claimed wood and processing winery wastewater using our own artificial wetland system that uses plants to filter the water of sugars and other matter.
Do your wine-loving patrons appreciate and seek out this type of winery?
For sure, customers appreciate what we are doing—especially when it’s immediately visible to them. We have a lot of green features at DuCard—our Tesla charger out front (it works for other e-vehicles too) certainly gets a lot of use. Our sign says, ‘Recharge your vehicle outside, recharge yourself inside.’ Others include using knives and forks made of potato starch and cups made out of corn starch to reduce our use of plastics and lightweight wine bottles to reduce our carbon footprint. In the vineyard, the use of natural and organic, low-impact materials to control grapevine diseases is a less visible but very important element of our whole program.
We are launching a special program for the month of September, where every customer to DuCard will get a tree sapling to take home and plant. Working with Friends of Rappahannock and the Virginia Department of Forestry, we are supporting the important goal of planting millions more trees—to help shade and cool the planet, to sequester carbon and improve the environment and to add to natural beauty, too.