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Tucked away in the picturesque valley of Sonoma County--just 50 miles north of San Francisco--is Lynmar Estate, a sustainable vineyard and winery, and almost virtual Garden of Eden. The estate has 40-something acres of grape vines, nine of which are over 40 years old, while the remainder of the ranch is a wooly mix of ornamental and edible fruits and vegetables, which literally grow up together side-by-side. The produce is given to a local charity where high school students prepare healthy, whole-food meals for cancer and AIDS patients.
Fritz would rehabilitate the property by adding trees, grape vines and shrubs, slowly transforming it from "a pasture to a vineyard with lush gardens, and native plants and trees." But it wasn't until the early 90s that Lynmar itself began producing and selling wine. The wine was well received, so in 2008, Lynn and his wife Aniysa moved in, making the 100-acre ranch their permanent home.
All of Lynmar's wines are processed using gravity flow, and you can taste it. This production format not only saves on energy but this method of winemaking is very, very gentle. The lack of mechanics and agitation help preserve a wine's more delicate notes.
You’ll see we got a lot of different things growing together. Nothing is in blocks, like a block of broccoli here, a block of chard there, etc. We’re not doing any kind of monoculture farming. We’ve created an ecosystem where we’re planting lots of different flowers along with our edible plants, creating more of a harmonious environment for the plants, and for the creatures that are living in this ecosystem.
Tomatoes, tomatillos, leeks, fennel, carrots, lettuces, and red kale are just some of the crops you'll find growing at Lynmar. Eytan says they pay close attention to crop rotation so that the same vegetables are not always planted in the same beds over and over again. They even have their own seed vault (it's really just an old barn) for when they "identify plants that do well in this particular landscape." The vault currently hosts over 100 different types of seeds.
Leftover crops make their way to a local charity called the Ceres Project, which teaches high school students how to prepare meals using whole foods. The meals are then delivered to people in need or those seeking medical treatment for such diseases as cancer or AIDS.
Just like with the vegetable gardens, hedgerows are used throughout the vineyard as a haven for beneficials. Here pollinators, insects, birds and butterflies can all be found, keeping unwanted pests at bay. They also provide a barrier to dust and pollution from the nearby road. The hedgerows are comprised mostly of endemic drought-resistant plants which greatly reduces their need for water. For pests not frightened off by the birds and bees, owl boxes have also been installed. A few cats also roam the property much to the gopher population's dismay. Legumes along with crops like vetch, peas, wild oats, and barley are used as cover crop and then tilled right back into the soil.
We’ve been experimenting with organic since 1996 and making sure that we’re doing it well…getting the same quality for all our grapes and hopefully Lynmar expands to make the whole property organic one day.