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Earth Day 2022

by Joy Sterling | Published April 18, 2022

In Honor of Earth Day

Earth Day is one of our favorite celebrations. Of course, as a vintner, every day is Earth Day. Our love of the land and profound sense of stewardship shine through in the wines and our vineyard management practices, all inspired by my parents’ vision when they founded Iron Horse in 1976.

 

I am so proud that Sonoma County is at the forefront of positive, climate farming.  The new mantra is to go beyond “sustainability” to “regenerative agriculture”.

We use exclusively recycled water in the vineyard and gardens. We are longtime proponents of cover crops and safeguarding diverse, natural habitats on the estate – floodplain, riparian corridors, and our magnificent oaks. My brother Laurence is engaged in a major restoration of the Coho salmon habit on our portion of Green Valley Creek. We have solar panels on the roof of the warehouse where we age the Sparkling Wines.

 

According to the California Land Stewardship Institute pilot program, based on our current practices, we sequester 280 tons of CO2, the equivalent of driving almost 700,000 miles a year. But rather than pat ourselves on the back, one of the tenants of Regenerative Agriculture, as I understand it, is that regardless of your baseline, the goal is to keep leveling up.

Iron Horse is our business, and it is also our home. Three generations live on the estate ranging in age from 27 to almost 91. Everyone who comes to visit can see and feel our love of the land. My mother lives at the heart of the property in the original Victorian built in 1876 surrounded by the gardens my father created which she "Barry's Park".      

There is no one spot where you can stand and see it all. It is a wonderland of twisting, narrow, gravel paths that my father designed to lead to various “rooms” with surprises around every corner..

Peonies about to burst

This is a favorite view because of the layering of the trees

We are very wealthy in climbing antique roses that date back to when the house was built.

This is a view of the veranda

From there, you can see across the roses to the “Home” Vineyard Block, which is planted to Pinot Noir. Home block is about three acres and true to its name is the most sheltered of our vineyard sites.  The new release is 2018 and will be in our upcoming wine club shipment.

You can say the gardens are part of the vineyards or the vineyards are part of the gardens. It’s all of a piece. Home is where the heart is.