Commitment to Sustainability
Since its inception, a principal tenant of Guinness McFadden’s farm was to “leave the ground better than you found it.” Over the years McFadden Farm’s Commitment to Sustainability has been made apparent through its organic farming practices, hydroelectric and solar power generation.
Some vineyards and wineries talk about sustainability and carbon neutrality; McFadden Farm walks the walk. In addition to the 160 acres of vineyards, McFadden Farm is 500 total acres, and grows organic, air dried herbs and herb blends sold nationally, holiday culinary herb wreaths sold by William Sonoma, and organic grass fed beef, sold in our local Hopland, CA tasting room. McFadden Farm has solar panels covering the roof of the farm office and several outbuildings, and a fully functioning hydroelectric plant on the Russian River. It produces renewable, clean, green energy far beyond it’s needs, enough to provide power for the homes of over 100 additional families.
In 1982, Guinness converted an old dam structure on the Russian River into a hydroelectric power plant, providing electricity to some of the farm, and the surplus to the local utility. Then, in 2003 he installed 300 solar panels at his shop and office area so that now the farm, while still on the electric utility grid, the farm is electrically self sustaining.
From the very beginning McFadden Vineyard has been organic, and has been certified as such by the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF). McFadden wines state on the label, “made from organically grown grapes.” This is an assurance that at no time were any chemical fertilizers or pesticides ever used in the production of the grapes in our wines. Since he lives right in the middle of the vineyards, it also assured him that he could raise his family in a safe place, not subject to chemical drift.
Guinness’ response to a question about McFadden Farm’s ‘sustainability’ practices is interesting. He says, “that word, in my opinion, is a cop-out to let people who use chemicals say they are ‘natural,’ which is another word meaning nothing. McFadden Farm is “Organic.” That means we use no chemicals or chemically derived material whether it’s herbicides, insecticides or fertilizers. We use compost, mined limestone and rock phosphate for soil amendments, mechanical processes for weed suppression and cultivation, and in the rare instances that we need to combat bugs, we use CCOF accepted organically derived applications based on flowers like pyrethrum. We plant cover crops in the vine rows each winter to prevent rain compaction of the soil and impart organic material and nutrients.”