As eco-friendly as it gets: Napa’s Shannon Ridge

This week, friends, we get really, really green. As in almost-no-fossil-fuels green. Meet the Shannons and their company, Shannon Ridge of California. Clay and Margarita Shannon both grew up in California’s wine country: Clay in the Healdsburg area in Sonoma County and Margarita in St. Helena in Napa County. They met when they were both working at a Napa Valley winery. From there, they went on to build a vineyard management and development company.

Shannon Ridge

They have grown fruit for many wonderful people and they have enjoyed tasting what their grapes have contributed to their wines. Still, they wondered how their wine grapes would stand up on their own. For them, the challenge was to take their grapes from bud break all the way to the bottle. Their goal was to make really enjoyable wines that taste like perfectly ripe grapes on the day you harvest them.

Shannon Ridge is a family-owned vineyard and winery located in Lake County, California. Their vineyards are certified sustainably farmed thus producing the finest mountain fruit possible. Their mountain grown fruit offers winemakers a full flavor profile from which they create these robust, food friendly wines.

At Shannon Ridge, they are all about living in harmony with Mother Nature. That means sheep. They use sheep to trim grass and keep the vineyards free of weeds. The result: less fossil fuel usage. The vineyards feed the sheep, the sheep feed the vines; lamb feeds the people, people drink the wine and wear wool.

The whole process is called Ovis Cycle (O-vis sahy-kuhl). Check out their site on the matter. Ovis – Latin for Sheep. Cycle – a sequence of changing stages that, upon completion, produces a final state identical to the original one.

The primary goal: a reduced use of mowers, tractors and weed eaters.

At Shannon Ridge the sheep have purportedly reduced the need to mow by 500 percent. Gas-powered weed eaters have nearly been eliminated. This means far less use of fossil fuels in the farming system. Also reduced: use of herbicides. The sheep keep the property relatively weed free, and Shannon Ridge staff are able to treat individual areas only as needed. This results in better productivity for the work crews and a lower cost for consumers. Additionally, when it comes to the vines themselves, the sheep are used to remove basil leaves and trunk suckers from the vines. This also results in a vineyard crew productivity bump. As for wildfire prevention and protection, there’s a benefit there, too. The sheep eat the cover crops, dry grasses and other leaf material that can fuel wildfires, thus creating fire protection on the property. And, erosion protection and farmland restoration is a result. Over the years, the Shannon Ridge hilltops have been eroded by the wind. As a preferred sleeping spot for the sheep, natural fertilization has caused the grass to grow and restore hilltops into productive areas.

Oh, and the wines? They taste great!

Shannon Ridge, High Elevation Collection, Chardonnay (2014) :: $14 sale $12

Aromatic notes of pear, green apple, melon and citrus. The same flavors fill your mouth with undertones of lightly toasted vanilla oak, caramel and a long juicy finish.

Shannon Ridge, High Elevation Collection, Petite Sirah (2015) :: $14 sale $12

This Petite Sirah is grown between 1,700-2,000 feet in elevation. We believe the added UV rays at higher elevations help the fruit ripen more evenly which leads to a more balanced and well-structured wine. Harvested in September, this Petite Sirah exudes blackberry, blueberry and fresh plums with a hint of dried herbs. Black pepper, cedar, warm spices and toasty vanilla notes come out after aging this wine on a combination of French and American oak for nine months.

Shannon Ridge, High Elevation Collection, Sauvignon Blanc (2015) :: $14 sale $12

Grapefruit, lime, guava, lemongrass, goose berry, melon notes and hints of key lime pie, depth and complexity with a long, bright finish.

Shannon Ridge, Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon, Buck Shack (2014) :: $21 sale $18

For the third drought year in a row, 2014 was early, mostly due to lack of water. Once ripening began, the hot, dry summer threatened to turn the grapes into raisins and it was a race to get them off the vines and into fermenters. It was a smaller crop than average, but intense concentration. The winemakers reportedly picked the very best fruit from all the finest vineyard sites … after a bottle of whiskey.  In honor of using bad judgment, they laid these wines down in some expensive new barrels and let it age. What came from it was dangerous deliciousness in a bottle.  Be careful with this one, don’t get in trouble.

Prices good through Tuesday, May 23.

Shannon Ridge

This saturday we welcome Denver’s Bear Creek Distillery and Backyard Soda Company, and the two aim to entice you with some cocktails. Sounds delish? Yes. Come join in the fun.

Come on down and enjoy these great beverages with us! We start sippin’ and tastin’ at 4pm. Hope you can make it! Tag your pics #pickitupatpearl so we can CHEERS! 

Discover why 5280 Magazine Readers and Editors voted Pearl Wine Company Denver’s BEST BOTTLE SHOP. PWC takes pride in being Denver’s best wine shop–a craft liquor specialty store. Conveniently located on South Pearl Street in Denver’s Platt Park neighborhood.