This is the first of a series highlighting sustainable practices in Texas wineries and vineyards.
In addition to be centers for locavore culture and community awareness, many Texas wineries are dedicated to being environmentally conscious and practicing sustainability in creative ways. With wine as both a farming and production venture, these practices have a multi-level impact and deserve a little applause.
We start with Red Caboose Winery and Vineyards because owner Gary McKibben has had an expansive influence on the industry, and he and his son Evan McKibben (winemaker), have taken sustainable practices very seriously in their own winery and vineyards.
In addition to owning Red Caboose Wineries in Meridian and Clifton, Gary is an architect for a Dallas firm specializing in sustainable design. The firm designed both Red Caboose buildings, as well as the buildings for Flat Creek Estate, Pedernales Cellars, Brennan Vineyards, Retreat Hill Winery and Vineyard, Texas Legato Winery, and La Bodega in Terminal D at DFW Airport.
In their winery and vineyard at Meridian, they are using a variety of green technologies. In the building, they source all their energy from solar panels (and actually generate enough energy to give back to the grid) and use geothermal cooling for all their refrigeration and chilling needs. They use sustainable building materials and recycle everything possible from both locations. And for their corks, they buy composite with caps. The ends are solid and the middle cylinders are pieced together recycled corks. They work just as well and make good use of what would be otherwise wasted materials.
Evan’s winemaking reflects a similar sentiment and dedication to the natural process: no ionization, no filtration, no computerized gadgets. The wine is racked and moved through hoses and gravity. This is in part to cut down on electricity use, and in part a commitment to original wine making practices. They are dedicated to quality over quantity and let the wine develop naturally from its vineyard beginnings, aging it in barrel and bottle as long as it needs.
In their vineyards, they source irrigation water from a rainwater catchment system and do not use pesticides. They prune clusters to allow the remaining grapes to develop their own natural intensity and quality, and all fruit is hand-havested. As Evan says, “We grow wine.” The same principles apply to any fruit they buy from outside sources.
How does all of this show in the bottle? Splendidly. Their 2008 Tempranillo/ Cabernet Sauvignon blend was one of the 22 Jefferson Cup winners (out of 499 entries) in 2011. Their Red Ranger Tempranillo blend, 2010 Syrah/Malbec, non-vintage Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon, and Blanc du Bois have also picked up awards as well. You can find these, and their other stellar wines at these restaurants and retail outlets.
For more information on Red Caboose Winery and Vineyards sustainable design, visit their webpage or visit them in person at their Meridian and Clifton locations.
– Margaret Shugart