for the Land
The goal at Mount Veeder Winery is to foster the natural balance of the vine and preserve the integrity of the land with a dedication to crafting wines that are the purest expression of this ruggedly beautiful site. Vineyard Manager Matt Ashby is charged with the care and preservation of the three prized vineyards on the steep slopes of Mount Veeder and has learned how to meet the demands of hillside farming. “Agriculture is often seen as anti-environment,” he says, “but in most cases, the people who work the land are the ones who come to know it best and respect it.”
Respecting the land and cultivating grapevines on Mount Veeder isn’t a simple task. The challenge lies in the ability not only to produce great wines, but also to improve the sustainability of the vineyards, prevent erosion, improve the quality of the runoff water, allow the deer and wildlife a place to live and have the vineyard live in harmony with nature.
Many steps are taken in order to accomplish these goals, including a strict attention to erosion control. Following the contours of the land, the vines cannot be planted in long, straight rows; instead, the rows are laid out in shorter, curving pieces. Top soil is shallow and precious, so installation of extensive drainage systems is essential to protect against soil erosion. Water collector basins are created along the inside of the terraces, emptying into underground drainage pipes that run through the vineyards.
A cover crop of grasses and clover, plus an organic mix of legumes that fix nitrogen levels and add organic matter back into the soil, restores nutrients and helps to control erosion. Organic composts also help maintain the vines’ nutritional balance. Compost is spread in the fall so that soil microbes and nutrients can penetrate the soil with the winter rains.