The Huffington Post's Kelly Mitchell recently visited Mendocino Wine Company and toured Parducci Wine Cellars with co-owner Tim Thornhill to discuss innovative water recycling methods, wildlife habitat conservation, and the making of great wine.
The article features an in-depth profile of Thornhill that shows how the combination of his background in ranch work, success as a landscaper, and unique approach to problem-solving resulted in Parducci becoming "the very first carbon neutral winery in the United States to operate on 100% green power."
The winery's huge strides in water conservation are instructive in light of California's continuing drought. After purchasing Parducci in 2004, Thornhill reduced the winery's wastewater pollution by installing filters and "trickle towers," in addition to recycling both leftover machinery and sugar-eating, filamentous fungi (which keep the trickle towers clean). Also key was creating a habitat based on the Everglades, the world's largest natural water filter system, which turned Parducci's former wastewater pond into a certified wildlife habitat. Mendocino Wine Company has received the GEELA Award (California's highest environmental award) three times, and Thornhill is able to recycle 100% of his winery's water at any time.
Thornhill's success comes from a rugged individualism that doesn't believe in the word "can't" and still remembers the lesson of his parents to leave things better than how you found them. Parducci's True Grit line of craft wines (made from 100% Mendocino grapes) perfectly reflects Thornhill's iconoclastic philosophy in the same way the line's boot illustration celebrates the bold determination of the visionary winemakers who planted grapevines here in the 1800s.
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Organic Connections spotlights the organic and biodynamic practices of Parducci Wine Cellars with a detailed profile of the winery's debris removal, water cleansing and reoxegenation, and natural integration.
The article illustrates the engineering principles behind the winery's water recycling and constructed wetland, as well as the holistic philosophy behind its operation.
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Dan Berger's Vintage Experiences gives "Bargain of the Week" status to the 2009 Parducci Small Lot Blend Cabernet Sauvignon.
The wine's flavor profile is described as: "Dried herbs, tea, and an earthy note that will be part of the wine's complexity in a year or two. A low-oak, crisp red that works nicely with meat dishes. Made in the old Parducci style!"
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Dan Berger's Vintage Experiences gave high praise to three Parducci wines this week, calling the 2012 Parducci Small Lot Blend Pinot Gris "Exceptional" while describing both the 2010 Parducci Reserve Pinot Noir and 2010 Small Lot Blend Merlot as "Very Highly Recommended."
Berger describes the water conservation improvements that the winery's chief operating officer Tim Thornhill has implemented, also noting that "the wines now coming out of Parducci are better than ever, most following the style set down decades ago by John Parducci, now 95 and the patron saint of the project."
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The Tasting Panel magazine profiles PWC owner and "Habitat Hero" Tim Thornhill, getting the scoop on how the Houston native came to Mendocino and “turned one of America’s oldest wineries into one of America’s greenest.”
The Tasting Panel also mentions how Thornhill's "water reclamation project has conserved water and saved money: Five million gallons are recycled annually. His waterfalls are both esthetically pleasing while also serving to oxygenate reclaimed winery waste water. His man-made wetland is an ecosystem that mimics the Everglades, using plants as a “green filter,” constructively cleaning water for use in the vineyards as well as for Parducci’s certified wildlife habitat."
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A recent SFGate article discusses methods of dealing with winery wastewater, and spotlights Parducci's water recycling wetlands as an example of an environmentally-freindly and economical solution.
SF Gate reports: '"We recycle 100 percent of the water that comes through the winery," says Tim Thornhill, a partner in Parducci winery in Mendocino, who built a wetland for treating his water. "And we do it with 20 percent of the energy you would normally use."'
"Parducci's pond water has a BOD of zero and dissolved oxygen of 5 to 8 parts per million; the minimum requirement for dissolved oxygen in irrigation water is 1 part per million."
'"It's like I'm making water," he says, "which is better than making money because I can't always buy water even if I have the money."'
"He starts his system by being smarter in the winery. Winery workers use brooms and shovels to pick up the bulk of the debris. It saves water and keeps winemaking solids out of the waste. Thornhill also takes the first runoff from barrel-cleaning, a purple concentrate rich with sugars, and puts it on his compost pile."
'"It increases the speed on the compost," he says, "and keeps it out of the wastewater."'
'"I took inspiration from one of the greatest filters in the world," he says, "the Everglades. It's like a labyrinth; water comes in on one end and leaves out the other, and along the way it goes through channels with grasses and organisms that do the actual filtering."'
"The new wetlands, which occupies about one-quarter of an acre, has transformed what used to be a typically ugly pond into a community park and wildlife magnet."
'"It's the No. 1 attraction on the tour," Thornhill says."
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