Cooper-Garrod Vineyards honored for leadership in going green

When it became a certified sustainable vineyard and winery in 2010, Cooper-Garrod Vineyards at Garrod Farms in Saratoga was ahead of the curve. The winery recently received the prestigious Green Medal Community Award for leadership in sustainable winegrowing for 2024, the 10th year the Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing award has been presented.

The award recognizes vineyards and wineries that are leaders in implementing the Three E’s of sustainability: environment, economic and social equity.

In particular, the Community Award is given to the vineyard or winery that uses innovative practices to improve relationships with employees, neighbors and/or communities, and is one of four Green Medal awards each year; this year, Cooper-Garrod joins fellow winners LangeTwins, Gloria Ferrer and Vino Farms, LLC.

Cooper-Garrod is part of a generational family farming operation that began in 1893. Co-located with Garrod Farms Riding Stables, the winery opened to the public in 1994.

Their wine label depicts the Santa Clara Valley in the spring bloom of orchards that lasted for decades until the advent of Silicon Valley. Today, few orchards remain, but the vineyards, also present again in the valley, are still part of the agricultural landscape. Today, the fourth and fifth generations of the Cooper and Garrod families work the land.

Fourth-generation owners Bill and Doris Cooper are dedicated stewards of the land they have inherited. Realizing that time was running out, they began switching to organic farming in 2005.

They started with a 2-acre block, and the experiment went well enough that they decided to transform the entire 28-acre vineyard to the highest standards of organic farming. Certified Organic Farmers of California gave the vineyard their stamp of approval in 2011.

Fifth-generation family members working at the vineyard and winery are Cory Bosworth, tasting room, club and events manager, and Trevor Garrod, assistant winemaker and production manager.

Going organic seemed intimidating. Winemaker Bill Cooper says of the transition to organic: “The biggest hurdle was deciding, ‘We can do this.’ The biggest positive surprise was the money savings and the feeling that we had taken our viticulture to the next level. »

He says the downside is that growing organically requires more attention. “You can’t just call a chemical company when a disease or pest invades the vineyard; the winemaker must be proactive and more aware of what is happening or could happen in the vineyards.

Cooper says one of the key results of going organic was their decision to switch to fermentation with native yeasts starting in 2011. “Instead of buying commercial yeast, we let the yeasts from the vineyards ferment the grapes. We believe that these yeasts, combined with our estate and vineyard-designated grapes, give the full expression of our Santa Cruz Mountain wines.

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