At Keller Estate, being a sustainable winery is a matter part of who we are, conserving the ecological balance of the land is at the heart of our mission.
Using eco-friendly practices like bee-keeping, owl and bat boxes, pond-driven irrigation, and sheep herding, Keller Estate has benefited by gaining a healthy, natural winery gifted with beautiful scenery, thriving vines, and fertile soil. While Sonoma County strives for all wineries in the area to be sustainable by the year 2019, Keller Estate is ahead of the game, having been already certified by the Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance for the past three years. At Keller Estate, we discovered early on that in adopting this method of growing we have produced higher quality grapes while creating a better community and world in the process.
Here are some of the areas where we have focused our efforts to date.
A bee's place in the world cannot be matched by man. They labor tirelessly, day in and day out, to help create the lush, green landscape we call our planet. If it weren't for bees, most of the fresh produce we see at the market would just not be found; as it were, of the hundred crop species that account for ninety percent of all foods worldwide, at least seventy percent are bee-pollinated. We work with Planet Bee Foundation, a movement of adult and children volunteers, to forge a significant impact on the honey bee's declining population. The foundation hopes that through the perspective of the struggling honey bee, they can create a greener oriented generation as stewards of the land. Planet Bee works with schools, nonprofits, summer camps, environmental centers, community gardens, and businesses - one of which being Keller Estate - to make a long-lasting impact on the environment, and more specifically, the bees.
At Keller Estate, the irrigation system we employ is an entirely sustainable and renewable system. By use of several rainwater ponds located around our beautiful estate, we forego the need for outside water sources, instead choosing to rely on the more natural, earth-friendly option: ourselves. Three out of our four ponds at Keller Estate Winery are used for vineyard, olive and landscape irrigation. The fourth, remaining pond is kept as an exclusive wildlife refuge and habitat, for our local bird population.
There is a delicate harmony in maintaining the sanctity of our land, one that can be quickly shifted off balance by many common threats, namely rodents and insects. Using Integrated pest management, we've stationed owl boxes strategically around our property. In short, round feathery faces are our solution. The barn owls native to the beautiful Sonoma area are the true champions of our crops, protecting our vines and olives from outside pests and promoting a balanced food chain. One owl through their natural reproduction cycle, along with its extended family, can look after a vineyard for generations.
Like owls, bats defend our harvest from nuisances that do harm. In this regard, they are much alike. However, while owls handle one part of the problem, appeasing their main diet of rodents and protecting our crops in the process, bats take care of the other side of the issue: insects. As part of Keller's integrated pest management initiative, we've implemented bat boxes around our estate. Bats significantly reduce the number of insect pests in an area - one bat can eat up to one thousand insects a night!
Nature's relentless-weed managers, sheep, are an important, time-saving that we include in of our sustainable land management practice. Keller Estate has its own 200 sheep herd which we use to control invasive vegetation. It is an efficient and cost-effective approach to mowing the area, considering they also fertilize as they walk!
Creating our own compost is a process that allows us to feed the soil. As farmers we grow our soil, the benefit is that our plants thrive. By using manure from a local dairy, our own vineyard, and landscaping, we are well on our way to a productive compost system. We hope that by 2019 we will have a full compost system in place.