Santa Barbara, Calif. – Grapes are a keystone crop throughout California and Mediterranean regions globally. At Jalama Canyon Ranch, White Buffalo Land Trust aims to demonstrate how shifting farming practices in the vineyard can create measurable positive ecological outcomes while delivering a superior grape and, ultimately, an outstanding wine. With nearly 900,000 acres of vineyards in California alone, regenerative viticulture has widespread potential to rebuild soil health, protect our water resources, and create positive climate impacts.
The Jalama Canyon Ranch vineyard will serve as a demonstration site for modeling and sharing the transition from conventional to regenerative viticulture. And to work with these grapes, White Buffalo partnered with Sandhi Wines, a Lompoc-based winery founded by world-class sommelier/winemaker Rajat Parr and winemaker Sashi Moorman. As part of the partnership, Sandhi Wines will be the exclusive buyer of grapes from the vineyard at Jalama Canyon Ranch, and they will collaborate to produce wine from the harvest. Proceeds from the wine will help fund White Buffalo’s research, education, and producer training programs to expand the adoption of regenerative agriculture – but the partnership doesn’t stop there. White Buffalo and Sandhi will work together to educate and inspire the broader community of growers, makers, and wine lovers to use this craft as a tool to impact how grapes are grown and contribute to our collective goal of restoring the ecosystem through agriculture.
“The WBLT is an extraordinary organization and we are proud to be partnering with them to gather our experiences and align our shared commitment to protecting our local habitats through responsible and thoughtful farming. The wine industry faces a crisis of unimaginable consequences from global warming. It is our belief that organizations like the WBLT will be crucial to addressing the challenges ahead and to ensure that future generations have the resources and knowledge to successfully manage climate-conscious farming pursuits.” -Sashi Moorman, Partner, Winemaker
White Buffalo became the stewards of the 5-acre vineyard at Jalama Canyon Ranch on April 20th, 2021, halfway through the current growing season. The vineyard comprises 4.5 acres of Pinot Noir and .5 acres of Chardonnay. Historically, its conventional management has included the use of toxic herbicides to keep the vine lines “clean,” a combination of sulfur and chemical fungicides to prevent mildew pressure, and heavy soil tillage. The unintended outcomes of these practices include increased soil erosion, residual chemicals in the soil and the waterways, decreased water infiltration, and declining biological diversity. This model is business as usual for most vineyards around the world.
“The way we eat and drink has the power to change our world for the better, and we owe it to ourselves and the next generations to unlock that potential. Jalama Canyon Ranch was made possible by broad community support for these objectives and this project is a unique opportunity to push the boundaries of what is possible through on-the-ground experimentation and research. The skills and dedication of the Sandhi team make them ideal partners to advance this work in the vineyard. The collective goal here is to create a vibrant demonstration for community education and farmer training, as well as a comprehensive road map for producers to effectively and profitably transition their businesses creating positive ecological outcomes.” -Steve Finkel, Founder and President of WBLT
White Buffalo has already begun to shift management practices at Jalama Canyon and are monitoring for positive environmental outcomes that include increasing soil carbon, improving water infiltration, expanding water-holding capacity within the soil, and broadening biodiversity. As first steps, they have stopped tilling the soil and stopped applying chemical herbicides and pesticides; and instead, will use cover crops, mulching, composting, and integrated pest management. In addition to these regenerative practices, the vineyard will qualify for transition to the USDA Organic Certification.
For the latest details about this regenerative viticulture demonstration project and to learn how to get involved, visit Whitebuffalolandtrust.org. For more information about wine releases, visit Sandhiwines.com and sign up for their mailing list.
About White Buffalo Land Trust: Founded in honor of the vision and spirit of Lyndsey McMorrow, WBLT is a Santa Barbara based 501(c)3 non-profit organization that practices, promotes, and develops systems of regenerative agriculture for local, regional, and global
impact. They are committed to the evolution of land stewardship and the redesign of our food system to directly address the climate, biodiversity, public health, and food security challenges that we face today. They believe change begins on the ground and that our local solutions lead to regional and global impact through shared data, models, and linking practices to outcomes. Click here to learn more about their regenerative agriculture projects. Sandhi Wines: Founded in 2010 by world-class sommelier/winemaker Rajat Parr and winemaker Sashi Moorman, Sandhi Wines is dedicated to crafting wines of finesse and balance. A small producer of predominantly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Sandhi Wines highlights the potential for balanced, restrained-yet-expressive wines from specific sites within the Santa Barbara County AVA. To learn more about Sandhi Wines, visit Sandhiwines.com and sign up for the mailing list.