Back in 1960, the Napa Valley was a farming community where hard work was rewarded with the satisfaction of a job well done. The valley floor was dominated by sheep, and the hillsides were wild, untamed forests. As part of a surveying class while in college, Fred Schweiger selected to survey his parent's property at the top of Spring Mountain Road. While working on that project, Fred realized that the rich, deep volcanic soils and the unique microclimates would be particularly favorable for Cabernet Sauvignon and other classic wine producing varietals. He also discovered an eight-acre fairly level land-locked parcel adjoining his parent's property. Within two years Fred, as a college student, was the owner of that parcel.
Clearing for vineyard purposes did not begin until the late 1970's. During the clearing process, old redwood grape stakes spaced at 1x1 meter intervals were discovered, reconfirming the notion that the property had once been a prime viticulture area dating back to the late 1870's. The first Schweiger vines were planted in 1981, pioneering sustainable farming.
For the first 10 years, the Schweigers sold their renowned fruit to Joe Cafaro, ZD, Newton and Stags Leap Winery. In 1994, Schweiger Vineyards became a bonded winery and the family began bottling wine under their own label, under the direction of son, Andrew Schweiger, a UC Davis grad who learned the trade at several of the industry’s top wineries. The family continued selling the majority of their grapes until 1999 when they began using 100 percent of their estate fruit for The Schweiger Vineyards label. Today, the family works together to farm 35 acres of vineyards producing about 5,000 cases each year. The primary varietals continue to be Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, but we also farm micro-blocks of Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, and Petite Sirah.
To us, sustainability is more than a way of farming. It is a way of life.
Sustainability is finding that balance between our environment and us. It is finding a way to be able to use the land in a way that will provide for us today and still protect and preserve the land for our future generations. Keeping our lives sustainable is a constant work in progress and in many ways it is just using common sense like Reduce-Reuse-Recycle and in other ways is using sustainable farming, land and business practices; some of which are listed below.
Our vineyard is cultivated to create a compost of over wintering legumes that add nitrogen to the soil.
Our terraced hillsides are designed to have only a 2% downhill slope with a 2% side slope into the bank. Slopes more than 5% have drainage catch basins. To further prevent erosion in the steep areas, we pre-winter these areas by seeding and spreading rice straw.
We elected to only clear 60% of our land, leaving Giant Redwoods, Douglas Firs and Live Oaks for future generations to enjoy. Today they decrease our carbon footprint by absorbing Carbon Dioxide and releasing Oxygen.
Our water source for agriculture consists of natural springs and a hand dug well (20' deep) with wind power to move the water. Most of our springs are gravity fed into a small pond which we use for irrigating the young vines until they are five years old. Our older vines are dry farmed with roots that reach twenty feet deep into rich volcanic soils.
Our winery facility is constructed with insulated concrete forms which provide an insulation factor of R-50. Additionally, there was no form work to strip at the end of construction, eliminating the waste of form wood. Our barrel cavern is completely underground, eliminating any need for refrigeration.
We no longer pay for electricity! Schweiger Vineyards was one of the pioneering wineries on Spring Mountain to transition over to being completely solar powered.
Our solar panels provide all the energy we require with extra electricity returned to the grid for you to use.