The beginning of March heralds the season many of us have been excitedly waiting to arrive. Spring. The equinox may not occur until the 20th, but the signs of the season of rebirth are already peeking around the corner. Punxsutawney Phil declared it, and it shall be so. In Florida the change of seasons may not be as discernible as it is up north, but we have our own indicators that spring is near, such as the abundance of plump, juicy strawberries bursting out of baskets on the shelves of farmers’ markets and grocery stores throughout the state. The warm afternoons stretch a little further into the night, and flip-flops begin making their way back out from the closet.
Every state has its own indicators of spring, and everyone has his own version of what smells, tastes and sights most trigger the nostalgia of childhood springs gone by. Undeniably, birds and bees have played an important role as spring’s tiny, winged mascots, (and let us not forget, as the mascots of those old fashioned lessons on human reproduction.) But they also play important parts in the growth and sustainability of certain vineyards, from which winemakers are using green resources to passionately produce environmentally friendly wine. A shining example of this is Honig Vineyard and Winery, located in Rutherford, California, in Napa Valley.
The name Honig means honey in German, so it seems fitting that bees would play a part in pollinating and sustaining the growth of plants along the winery’s riverbank, as well as the cover crops in the vineyard. While bees are not responsible for the pollination of the grapevines themselves, (this is taken care of by wind and gravity,) they are an asset to the ecological balance of Honig’s vineyard. To control the insect population, Honig’s team built bat and bluebird boxes around the perimeter of the vineyard, and owls and hawks take care of pesky rodents that threaten to infiltrate the vines. According to their web-site, in 2006 the winery switched to solar power modules, which saves them an estimated $42,000 in electrical bills a year and prevents the emissions of 7,500,000 pounds of carbon dioxide. Mechanical tilling of the soil cuts out the need for herbicides, Golden Retrievers referred to as “sniffer dogs” are trained to detect and sniff out harmful mealybugs, and all farming equipment runs on biodiesel.
It is difficult to deny the importance of decreasing our carbon footprint, so it is certainly commendable that businesses such as Honig are taking noble steps in improving the practice of sustainable winemaking. Undoubtedly there are challenges these winemakers face in the effort to protect their crop and yield enough outstanding wine to sustain their business. The practice of full circle environmental production methods must also result in full circle financial return, or else the business wouldn’t be able to continue.
Not to mention the wine has to taste good.
Keeping in stride with all of this green is Honig’s own spring mascot, Honig Sauvignon Blanc, 2009. The herbaceous qualities of the sauvignon blanc grape are indicative of spring nuances, when the grass has been freshly cut and the fruit is just beyond full ripeness. Pale straw yellow with a hint of green, this wine delivers in sight and smell the herbal and citrus qualities one would expect to find in a sauvignon blanc. Grapefruit, melon rind, and green apple linger in the nose, but the mouthfeel is round and possesses more tropical flavors. Finish is medium-long with a nice balance of mineral and acidity. Available at Eola Wine Company for a stupendously affordable $9 a glass/$36 a bottle, give this spring nectar a swirl with fresh fruit or a salad and witness the pure miracle that is springtime in a bottle.