Our Farming Philosophy
Since the beginning, we have practiced a sustainable farming philosophy in our vineyard. There were many factors that played a role in the decision to become a sustainable property. The process is arduous, takes years to fully realize and is truly a lifetime commitment. Sustainability rests on the principle that we must meet the needs of the present use of the land without compromising future uses or those of future generations. It means maintaining certain principles such as biodiversity, ecological balance, natural plant fertilization, natural pest management and soil integrity. By practicing sustainable farming since we first started, it was a natural next step for us to become an organic vineyard -- a more rigorous investment in our farming methodology.
Sustainable vs. Organic Farming
The term “organic farming” generally falls within the accepted definition of sustainable agriculture – no use of chemical pesticides, natural fertilization, biological pest management, etc. The main difference between sustainable and organic farming is the certification process. Many small producers farm above and beyond the parameters required for certified organic farming, but simply can’t afford the price involved on a year-to-year basis for the required certification inspections. Here at Ackerman Family Vineyards, we decided to become a California Certified Organic Farm (CCOF) because we believe in the concept of staying true to our values and letting our consumers know that we adhere to a strict set of guidelines that require us to maintain the high standards needed to be a CCOF vineyard. Being organic is a governmental certification process that requires annual inspections; sustainable farming is more a philosophy or way of life. Here at Ackerman Family Vineyards, we practice both.
Healthy soil is the foundation for producing healthy vines. Vines that are farmed with sustainability in mind are more vigorous, produce healthier fruit and are less susceptible to disease. Just like people that maintain a healthy lifestyle, they will still encounter pests and disease on occasion but will have a stronger system to manage or resist them. In addition, quality soil offers a richer diversity of nutrients and balance along with providing the vines with an environment that is less stressful. Here at Ackerman Family Vineyards, we view the soil as a living, yet delicate entity that needs consistent nurturing and care that allows for the maximum long-term productivity and strength of the vines we manage.
Sustainable farming includes the use of cover crops. Cover crops help to improve water infiltration and protect against erosion during our rainy season. In addition, by adding plants such as legumes, we can offer additional nutrients, such as nitrogen, to the soil. They suppress weeds and provide a supportive environment for healthy insects, such as ladybugs, to live and thrive, thus controlling other insects that have a negative impact on the vines.
Another key to sustainable growing is the use of hawk boxes. Hawks are not only beautiful but are a great way to control rodents in the vineyards. Here at Ackerman Family Vineyards, we have two hawk boxes that are occupied all year long.
Of course, not only do we just love dogs but we also ‘hire’ them to keep border control. In the Coombsville area, the deer population is booming. In as much as they are beautiful, they can be very destructive. Consequently, our German Shorthair Pointer, Buck, just loves checking the fence line throughout the day to keep the deer at bay.
The area of Coombsville has a long and rich heritage – there were vineyards next door when we first moved here that were planted in the late 1920’s. Rolling hills and seasonal streams abound and we want to make sure they stay as beautiful and healthy as they currently are. By practicing sustainable farming techniques, we feel we are stewards of the land we have come to love and want to ensure its longevity as a top quality vineyard for years to come.