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Food Scraps to Fine Wine

SAN FRANCISCO, California, Dec. 18 - /EWire/ -- Vineyards in the heart of California's wine country, including Napa, Sonoma, El Dorado and Mendocino counties, now use compost made with food scraps from San Francisco's finest restaurants to improve soil quality and grow better grapes for the production of fine wines.

"We have to give back to the soil," says Linda Hale, Vineyard Supervisor for Madrone Vineyard at Domenici Ranch in Sonoma County. "The benefits that we will reap are incredible."

Giving back is a primary goal of an unusual program that diverts kitchen trimmings, plate scrapings and other compostable material from fine restaurants, hotels, markets, delis and coffee shops. Over 1,400 food-related businesses and thousands of San Francisco residents provide food scraps and other compostable material as part of the program. These source materials create a very a diverse feedstock that includes everything from crab shells and cantaloupe skins to steak bones and half eaten sandwiches. The result is especially rich compost, perfect for reconditioning soils after harvest.

Compost made from the food scraps of San Francisco restaurants is a beautiful sight in the eyes of vineyard managers. "We are trying to enhance the soil microbial growth and by adding compost we can achieve that," says Hale. "We can also increase the availability of nutrients in the soil for the uptake of the plant. We can do this by adding this very rich compost. Finally, we like to use organic material to increase the soil tithe and porosity."

Clarence Jenkins, owner of Madrone Vineyard Management in Sonoma County, says, "You can't shortchange the soil. The Norcal compost is a very good product and is very cost effective. We get better soil structure and eventually because of that structure we will get better plants." The Organic Material Review Institute, a nonprofit organization whose primary mission is to publish and disseminate lists of materials allowed and prohibited for use in the production, processing, and handling of organic food and fiber, analyzed the finished compost and determined it appropriate for use on organic farms. Everett Ridge Vineyards & Winery, an organic vineyard in Healdsburg applied the compost to its soils in October. "It is some of the best stuff I've ever seen," says Darek Trowbridge, Vineyard Manager at Everett Ridge. Trowbridge appreciates the "very diverse feedstock used to produce the compost."

Remi Cohen, Winegrower, at Bouchaine Vineyards in Napa, says, "The compost supplies our vineyards with organic matter and macro and micro nutrients such as potassium, nitrogen and other humic and folic acids – organic acids that the grape vine needs."

"Composting is much better than inorganic fertilizers," Cohen says. "We by far prefer compost because it is not toxic to the soil. Fertilizer often contains inorganic salts, which can create toxicity in the soil and sometimes render plant nutrients unavailable. Also, organic material can help aerate the soil and help retain water in the soil, all things that are very valuable to a grape farmer."

The compost program is made possible through the efforts of three companies. Golden Gate Disposal & Recycling Company and Sunset Scavenger Company collect the food scraps and other compostable materials. Jepson Prairie Organics, (, a modern compost operation located outside Vacaville, California, receives the materials and produces the finished compost. All three companies are wholly owned subsidiaries of Norcal Waste Systems, Inc., a 100 percent employee-owned company headquartered in San Francisco.

Jepson Prairie Organics began making compost from the food scraps of San Francisco restaurants five years ago. Soil blenders, nurseries, orchards, professional landscapers and farms prefer the unique compost because it offers so many benefits. Vineyards in Northern California's wine country began using the compost immediately after the 2002 fall crush to recondition their soils. For vineyards that also wish to add lime and gypsum to their soils Jepson Prairie can blend those materials into the finished compost at the company's modern compost facility outside Vacaville.

High-resolution jpeg photos are available for print and electronic media. To view additional photos of compost application in vineyards go to –

Studio quality film clips shot in December are available for electronic media in Beta and digital formats. These clips show compost being applied to Madrone Vineyard in Sonoma County and quote vineyard managers on why they recondition their soils with compost made with food scraps from San Francisco restaurants.

Vineyard Managers available to comment on this story:

Glen Burleigh or Tom Mettocroft Buckland Vineyards Management Group Napa, California Office: (707) 252-1800

Darek Trowbridge

Vineyard Manager

Everett Ridge Vineyards & Winery (organic)

Healdsburg, California * (707) 433-1637

Clarence Jenkins or Linda Hale Madrone Vineyard Management Sonoma County, California Office: (707) 996-4012

Remi Cohen


Bouchaine Vineyards

Napa, California * (707) 252-9065

Vineyards using compost produced by Jepson Prairie Organics:

Bouchaine Vineyards Napa, California

Di Loreto Cellars

Camron Park, California

Everett Ridge Vineyards Healdsburg, California


Somerset, California

Freed Vineyards Napa, California

Madrone Vineyard (Domenici Ranch)

Glen Ellen, California

Martinelli Farms, Inc. Fulton, California

Nunns Canyon Ranch

Kenwood, California

Red Hen Winery Napa, California

Roger Roessler Vineyards

Sonoma, California

Ryan Ranch Napa, California

Sawi Vineyards

Napa, California

Tinsely Vineyards Napa, California

Note: A photo is available at URL:

For more information:

Norcal Waste Systems, Inc. Robert Reed, 415/875-1205 or Cell: 415/606-8183,, or Jepson Prairie Organics, Chris Choate, 707/693-2103 or Cell: 707/249-1702,,


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