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25TH ANNIVERSARY ·1982 - 2007


Sustainable Farming, Organic Grapes, and Handley Wines

"It's impossible to sense `terroir' if you're constantly changing the soil with chemicals. Only when you remove those things can you truly hear the earth speak."

­ French winegrower, quoted in Wine Country Living magazine

For more than 10 years, Milla Handley has farmed sustainably, using organic methods and avoiding chemicals whenever possible. Her goal has always been to encourage healthy, living soils, which in turn produce vines that yield more flavorful fruit. She believes that the balanced methods used in organic farming help develop a wine's expression of regional and varietal character. For these reasons, Milla chose to pursue organic certification for the Handley Cellars Estate Vineyard, a 3-year process which was completed in August of 2005. Handley Cellars follows many of the guidelines set forth by The Sustainable Winegrowing Practices (SWP) Program, a voluntary program created by The Wine Institute in 2001. Its mission is to promote practices that result in the best grapes and wine possible, while maintaining sensitivity and respect for the well-being of the land, the community, and the economy. Both the Handley Cellars Estate Vineyard and Handley's Dry Creek Valley Vineyard have been farmed sustainably for many years. Much of Mendocino County is already farmed sustainably, but some vineyards choose to go further, toward organic certification by an independent agency. The California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) is one such agency. It is reviewed and accredited by the National Organic Program, a division of the USDA. These agencies verify that products claiming to be "certified organic" have actually been grown and processed without the use of synthetic chemicals. There are organic wines and there are those, such as Handley Cellars Estate wines, which are not organic, but are made

from organically-grown grapes. The farming practices are the same: the fruit is grown without synthetic herbicides, fertilizers, or pesticides. The main differences are in the production process, where many more restrictions apply to certified organic wines. For wineries who do not produce certified organic wines, but who use organic fruit, strict regulations apply to those wishing to add the words "made from organicallygrown grapes" on their label. The rules governing wine labels place restrictions on the handling of both organic and nonorganic fruit in the same facility. Each year, Handley Cellars purchases grapes from a variety of responsible growers, only some of whom are certified organic. Although we make Handley's Estate Chardonnay with our own organic grapes, stating that fact on the label would subject us to severe limitations on our ability to continue offering the range of wines now on our list. At Handley Cellars, we strive to be good stewards of the land, growing grapes organically in order to minimize chemical run-off into the nearby Navarro River and onto neighboring properties. We also work to make the best wines possible. Currently, we feel that organic winemaking methods cannot consistently ensure finished products that meet with our standards. We continue to make our Handley Estate wines with organically grown fruit because Milla believes they are best able to allow the character of this beautiful region to shine through in the finished product. Our goal is to create wines that reflect the area in which they are grown, with minimal impact on the valley which is our home and that of future generations.


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