Going Green For The Greater Good
It’s not an easy task to turn a modern- age Napa Valley winery, built just after the 1976 Judgement of Paris, into a model of sustainability. Whitehall Lane Winery and Vineyards succeeded in doing so, and in the process, has quietly earned kudos within the Napa Green community.
Consistently rated a top Napa Valley tasting room by the readers of Napa Valley Life Magazine, Whitehall Lane has served as a Highway 29 mainstay for more than 40 years. Strategically located just south of St. Helena, the warm and convivial tasting room is the perfect first or last stop on many a wine tasting tour. Visitors seeking to enjoy the winery’s award-winning Cabernets are likely unaware of the Leonardini family’s efforts to create their model of environmental diligence, making these efforts more commendatory.
“To take our structures and make them Napa Green compliant was certainly not simple,” said Katie Leonardini, who serves as vice president of operations for the winery. “But it was the right thing to do.”
Katie’s parents, Tom and Karen Leonardini, purchased Whitehall Lane in 1993. They retained the winery’s original name yet made their mark by revitalizing the winemaking practices and by adding a lion logo to several labels of the winery’s varietals. (Leonardini means ‘little lion’ in Italian.) The Leonardinis immediately sought to evolve the winemaking practices by implementing state-of-the-art technology, introducing a barrel-aging program, and most importantly, by acquiring additional vineyard acreage across the valley floor. Today, Whitehall Lane includes a total of 124 planted acres; their wines will very soon be 100% estate grown.
Katie’s efforts to observe Napa Green practices were endorsed and aided by winemaker, Jason Moulton, who joined Whitehall Lane in 2016. Together, the duo facilitated the installation of solar paneling, monitored water waste, moved to steam cleaning methods, and segmented areas of the tank rooms for better temperature control. In 2018, their achievement (and that of the entire dedicated team) led to Napa Green Certification.
“When I joined the team at Whitehall Lane, I saw the potential to create a sustainable environment,” said Moulton, who studied viticulture and enology in New Zealand and subsequently worked with some of the valley’s most renowned winemakers such as Philippe Melka and David Ramey. “I knew that the ultimate benefits would far outweigh initial costs. I love that Katie and her family were on board. Going green is just the smart and right thing to do.”
Whitehall Lane’s six Napa vineyards are also on track to be Napa Green certified by this summer.
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Article By: Fran Miller