From the World

Raise A Glass


CADE Winery Photos by Adrián Gregorutti / Stratus Winery Photos by Ben Rahn

The warmth of the afternoon sun mixes with the cool breeze of the quiet blue sky, working in perfect harmony to combine the scent of rich soil and sweetly ripened grapes hanging from the vine.  Each ingredient comes together in one taste of fine wine, when the intriguing flavors and complex aromatics reach your palate.  Great wine is the culmination of many different variables, all working together – sun, soil, site, grapes…and wineries are taking steps to preserve the land for generations to come.




“The wine we grow is dependent on the health of the land on which it is grown. 
We foster that health with every step as we farm our vineyard and guide our winemaking. 

Each vintage bottled is a reflection of this ongoing commitment.” – Stratus Wines Environmental Mission Statement

A leader in sustainability, Stratus Wines’ philosophy is forward thinking and boundary pushing in terms of everything that they do.  So it’s not surprising that in 2005 this Ontario, Canada based winery became the first winery, globally, to be fully LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified. Not just the barrel cellar, not just the hospitality retail area, but the entire winemaking / hospitality facility is fully LEED certified.  Suzanne Janke, Director of Hospitality and Retail at Stratus Wines stated, “It was important to be as thorough as possible, and to let both the lifestyle aspects of the wine business as well as the wine production area really reflect the idea of preserving the land.” She went on to say, “We really try to do things thoroughly.  We don’t like to stop half way, and so to have the barrel cellar LEED certified and not everything else would have been fine but it wouldn’t have been true to the goals of the entire project, which are really to do things in a complete way.”

Unique in the fact that they use geothermal technology to heat and cool the entire building, including the fermentation tanks, Stratus aims to push the boundaries in all facets of the winery from building design, to vineyard management, to the wine making approach.  Additionally, glass was used in both the building and winery cellars, which provide the workers with an open environment allowing natural light and vistas through the windows that connect them to the land.  Stratus didn’t stop there, the environmental consciousness continued to smaller gestures such as the composting of all waste from plant material; washrooms with waterless-flush urinals and motion-detector light switches; bicycle racks and showers to encourage cycling to work; and even a hybrid, gas-electric Toyota Prius to make winery deliveries.  Ian Theaker, Principal of Integral Green Consulting and member of the Canada Green Building Council’s Board of Directors, commented on Stratus’ thoughtful design, “Your efforts have resulted in a building that will protect our common resources and environment over its entire life.”



Winery or not, sustainable practices are important, period. Which is why the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), developed the green building rating system, known as LEED.  It was created to promote a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality. Minimizing the environmental impact on your land and the land of your neighbors, conserving water, energy and materials, demonstrating the importance of social responsibility, and creating a healthier work environment for your employees are only a few of the many benefits to a LEED design.  While LEED and sustainable practices are critical, they are especially so for wineries. Janke explains, “Wine is a byproduct of the land…without great fruit we can’t make great wines, and we need to preserve these lands for generations to come.”


Janke believes this is growing trend, and a prime example is a neighboring winery to Stratus, which also received LEED certification. Janke goes on to say, “And not just wineries, but there are some other park related or environmental attractions that have since received LEED certification in the region, and I think that one certification sort of fuels the other.“ Juancarlos Fernandez the visionary architect behind CADE Winery, believes that LEED certification amongst wineries is more than just a trend, rather it is becoming the norm, explaining that the new building codes in California require wineries to build to a basic level of LEED. “Now when you do a use permit for a new winery they ask you ‘What are you going to do that’s sustainable and green?’ and you have to have minimum requirements…In California right now buildings over 7,000 sq. ft. are required to have basic LEED requirements.”

In 2010, CADE Winery, was awarded LEED certification becoming Napa Valley’s first 100% LEED Gold certified estate winery. Fernandez’s strong and masculine design had already encompassed many sustainable design elements before LEED certification was ever discussed, which made obtaining LEED certification that much easier.   Some of the “green” elements implemented by Fernandez were the use of recycled steel; concrete mixed with fly ash to reduce the use of cement; naturally insulated caves and fermentation room; additional insulation from recycled materials, such as blue jeans; individually jacketed fermentation tanks; and structural glass and solar panels to minimize the use of electricity.

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“We have an ongoing commitment to our practice…to not just rest on our laurels after receiving this LEED certification.  It’s a holistic approach to the way we run the business”, explains Janke of Stratus’ long-term approach to sustainability.  Which begs the question, ‘After certification, what’s next?’  Although LEED certification is an important step in the right direction, sustainability doesn’t end there.  Rather, companies and wineries alike must continue to push boundaries and challenge themselves to constantly implement new and better practices. Janke explained that every year at Stratus, they have a green committee that looks for ways to improve the sustainability or the operations in all different departments.  From small changes, that you might say are negligible, like improving the way they recycle, or the way they discard of organic matter, to more significant expense related items.  Much like the integrity of the wine that we love, our health and well-being are directly linked to the health of the land that we live on – you can’t enjoy one, without the other.

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Article From The Happiness Issue