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Medlock Ames
 
February 24, 2022 | Medlock Ames

Introducing Our Six Pillars of Sustainability


PRESERVING OUR VISION

In my 20s, I found myself in Guatemala, finishing my two year service in the Peace Corps, helping farmers make their land more productive. I witnessed people desperate to provide for their families use extremely harmful chemicals to eke out a living. These chemicals were harming not only the health of the land but more importantly, the health and wellbeing of the people who lived on the land. Those images and the impression they left, burned into my mind and my heart the desire to always care for the land, animals and mostly the people who depend on it.  

When I came to Bell Mountain over 20 years ago, my vision was to care for the land and farm organically to preserve the soil and ecosystem that surrounded the vines. However, when the Kincade Fire tore through the property in 2019, it was a wake-up call for me that I needed to do more. New research about regenerative farming was more widely available and I could see that tools and techniques that were cutting edge a few decades ago were being replaced by pioneering ideas on how to preserve the earth and begin to dial back the effects of climate change. It was time to do more.

OUR NEW JOURNEY

We started by sitting down and thinking about all the elements that make up our farming and winemaking operations as well as caring for the 340 acres of mostly natural woodlands at Bell Mountain Ranch. The more we thought, discussed, and debated, the more it became clear that our roadmap for the next decade and beyond works on a small scale here but the principles apply to the world at large.

OUR ROADMAP TO THE NEXT DECADE

In our continued spirit of transparency, I’m sharing with you our Six Pillars of Sustainability. This is part of our ongoing effort to share with you how our views are changing but also to inspire others that making a big change can start with a small step. I’m sharing with you the condensed version with some key initiatives behind each pillar as we gather more data and test new strategies to remain on the forefront of this collective goal to preserve the air, land, water, people and animals on earth. This is close to my heart and ever evolving so I look forward to hearing your feedback as we embark on this journey.

PILLAR 1: ELIMINATE OUR CARBON FOOTPRINT

Our goal is to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and become Carbon Neutral by 2026. Here is how we will achieve this:

  • Replace our tractors and farm trucks from diesel and gasoline power to electric, which can be charged by our solar panels
  • Partner with glass manufacturers and transportation providers to create glass bottles and delivery options that have the lowest carbon footprint from the time the sand is melted (which is one of the most CO2 intensive aspects) until it arrives at your house
  • Convert our vineyard practices to Regenerative Organic farming to increase natural carbon capture through the soil

PILLAR 2: ENHANCE OUR BIODIVERSITY FOR GREATER LAND PRODUCTIVITY

Our goal is to boost biodiversity at Bell Mountain to reduce reliance on manufactured inputs to control weeds and pests. Here is how we will achieve this:

  • Create attractive environment that attracts beneficial insects to help control insect pests including increasing species of cover crop by 100%, planting more insectary flowers, and plant 1,000 feet of native hedgerows
  • Establish 30 barn owl boxes and kestrel houses by 2023 to control vineyard pests like moles and gophers that damage vine roots
  • Restore woodland destroyed in Kincade Fire to support the 10 distinct plant communities at Bell Mountain by planting 1,000 trees by 2026 (these trees will also increase our overall carbon capture)

PILLAR 3: REDUCE WATER DEPENDENCY

Our goal is to reduce our dependency on the 8 million gallons of water by 40% annuallyHere is how we will achieve this:

  • Install data-driven water monitoring for vineyard irrigation to cut water usage by 10%
  • Convert water-based frost protection to wind-based to save one million gallons of water a year
  • Implement regenerative farming techniques that improve soil health and allow for more water capture in soil, reducing reliance on irrigation

PILLAR 4: CREATE A FIRE RESILIENT ECOSYSTEM

Our goal is to reduce fire risk to our people and ecosystemHere is how we will achieve this:

  • Remove burned trees and explore controlled burns to keep brush regrowth low
  • Implement sheep and cattle grazing for weed management
  • Drive greater communication and support across our neighborhood through roundtable discussions and community support groups

PILLAR 5: NURTURE AN INCLUSIVE WORK ENVIRONMENT

Our goal is to create a place where people work and thrive, wanting to be part of our team and feeling supported. Here is how we will achieve this:

  • Career transparency, advancement and training plans created and reviewed annually
    • Prioritize education across all disciplines including ESL for non-native English speakers and Wine & Spirits Education Trust wine education for all employees
    • Job descriptions (in English and Spanish) for all positions with mid-year and annual reviews given to all employees
  • Monthly all-staff trainings to cross pollinate ideas and ensure transparency including implicit bias and sexual harassment training for all team members
  • 8 weeks of fully paid maternity leave for new mothers with up to 8 additional weeks of leave

PILLAR 6: DEEPEN ENGAGEMENT WITH COMMUNITY

Our goal is to share our values with you and our community, demonstrating that making a difference is important and can be done at all levelsHere is how we will achieve this:

  • Partner with organizations that share the same farming values and proactively work to reverse climate change
  • Garden to alleviate hunger in the community, partnering with Farm to Pantry charity to glean from our garden
  • All-staff volunteer day each year that supports one of our community partners (last year we built trails for Pepperwood Preserve)

Please share your feedback and let’s keep the conversation going.

Warm regards,

Ames Morison
Co-Founder, Medlock Ames Winery 


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