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This Sustainable Winery Counts Sheep, Miniature Bulls Among Its Workers

This California vineyard was founded in 1998 on principles of environmental sustainability.
2 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

This Sustainable Winery Counts Sheep and Miniature Bulls Among Its WorkersWhen longtime friends Christopher Medlock James and Ames Morison decided to take on the challenge of growing and making wine, they searched for--and found--a very special 335 acres of land on Bell Mountain in Alexander Valley. The year was 1998, and today's sustainable and organic farming movement was in its infancy. But Chris and Ames shared a conviction about the kind of wines they were going to produce, and they founded Medlock Ames upon some strong principles.

Medlock Ames is dedicated to practicing environmental sustainability and the production of premier quality wine. Only 56 acres of the stunning land is planted to grapevines. The rest is untouched, or dedicated to grazing land for its sheep, vegetable gardens, solar-power arrays, and natural ponds. The vineyards are farmed organically with no insecticides, chemical fertilizers, or herbicides.

They "employ" sheep and miniature bulls to eat unwanted vegetation, and welcome wildlife to pass through safe corridors to limit damage to their vines, and stress to the land's natural residents. Chris and Ames believe that this way of farming leads to the production of superior quality wines.

Their commitment to the environment follows the grapes every step of the way from vine to wine. The winery building, constructed with thick stone walls to maintain a proper temperature, utilizes a gravity-flow system to reduce energy consumption and retain the grapes' subtle, elegant characteristics. The cellar's underground location provides natural coolness, reducing the need for artificial temperature control.

Although a visit to the acreage on Bell Mountain can be exhilarating, Chris and Ames recently opened a tasting room in Healdsburg, in the brilliantly restored 150-year-old building that used to house the Alexander Valley Bar and Store. Besides having the opportunity to enjoy Medlock Ames wines, guests can enjoy fresh produce in season from the property's organic gardens and olive orchard, and cocktails from a full liquor bar menu--a feature that's making Medlock Ames popular with wine tourers and locals alike.

'09 Sauvignon Blanc Fresh fruit, tangy grapefruit, citrus explosion $27
'07 Ranch Red Black fruits, spice, cocoa, fine tannins $32
'06 Cabernet Sauvignon Blackberries, cherries, cassis, licorice, mocha, vanilla $52


Tasting Room Open Daily 10–5
13414 Chalk Hill Rd
Healdsburg, CA 95448

Organic farming practices, culinary events, scenic view, wine club events, snacks available

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