Sunstone has been committed to growing wine grapes without the use of herbicides, pesticides, or synthetic fungicides since the initial planting in 1990. With 100% of the 28-acre estate vineyard certified organic by the California Certified Organic Farmers (C.C.O.F.), Sunstone’s estate-grown wines are the product of a vineyard in harmony with the Earth’s cycles throughout the year. “Not only do organic vineyards and toxin-free soils more accurately reflect the Santa Ynez Valley terroir, but they also respect our consumers’ health and the health of the people that work here,” explains owner, Bion Rice.
Also Director of Winemaking, Bion’s fundamental philosophy for producing high-quality wines at Sunstone is to preserve the inherent quality of the grapes at every step in the grape growing and winemaking process. This holistic approach also creates a healthy environment in which to work and live.
“There was once a time when pesticides were thought to be the universal remedy to agriculture. The concept of disrupting eco-balance was non-existent, and the belief that ‘the only good bug was a dead bug’ permeated society,” Bion explains. “We are constantly experimenting with different methods to achieve a natural balance in the vineyard, which can be severely disrupted by the ‘quick-fix’ employment of herbicides or pesticides. We use cover crops, like barley, which not only generate competition with the vines, but also host beneficial insects. This type of equilibrium is an ongoing process that we are constantly fine tuning each day.”
Bion claims “It is really wonderful to work with fruit that has no residual pesticides. I feel that the vines tend to be healthier, and organic farming is certainly the way of the future, as we will have to use a more sustainable approach to agriculture as a way of caring for the world that we live in.”