Nestled just south of Sacramento, Lodi is a wine appellation synonymous with sustainability.
The Lodi Winegrape Commission, set up in 1991, was responsible for formalizing the Lodi Rules, a sustainable certification program, and pioneers of a more responsible winemaking.
Kendra Altnow knows the ins and outs of this program well, after all, her father and her uncle were part of the formative group that set up the Lodi Rules.
Known as the “twins,” these formative Langes make up the indie winemaking team of LangeTwins, supported by Naked since 2021.
Today Kendra leads the eco charge as sustainability manager at her 5th generation Lange family’s wine business.
“The Lodi Rules for sustainable winemaking requires a third party to audit the vineyard and winery,” Kendra said. “That’s what makes it so unique. It looks at everything from crop protection all the way through to human resources, economics, and the community.”
What’s interesting is that Lodi Rules formed a kind of playbook for others to follow.
It’s telling that the Lodi Rules have been used by organizations such as California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance. But the Lange family are continuing to push things forward, going beyond the bar that’s been set.
“We do a great job at water management,” continued Kendra. “We’re allowed to use 11 gallons of water to produce one gallon of wine, but we’ve managed to get that down to just 2.45 gallons.”
Meanwhile, LangeTwins also have an incredibly robust solar system. “We produce around 50% of our own energy,” says Kendra. “Obviously during peak times like harvest, it can be less, but we also have times in the year when it’s more.”
When you look at the scale of LangeTwins operations, it’s an impressive feat.
They currently produce enough energy to power 231 homes.
You see, as well as farming around 1,500 acres of their own family vineyards. LangeTwins also take care of 6,000 acres for absentee farmers – all of which are farmed to LangeTwins sustainability criteria.
Last year the family recycled 86 tonnes of cardboard, which is the equivalent of 1,462 trees – a small forest.
“Waste is a big problem in winemaking,” explains Kendra. “And waste diversion is an area we are really pushing into.”
The idea is to be hyper-efficient in the production of their wine, looking at everything from the plastic backing to new wine labels, to the tricky issue of recycling cork.
With 115,000lbs of waste diverted from landfills last year (that’s like, 150,000 cans of soup) Kendra and her family’s initiatives are making impressive progress.
“One of our biggest achievements has been incorporating the eco-system into our growing. We’ve been taking areas of vineyards that haven’t produced well and reestablished them to their natural habitat.” To date, this now equates to some seventeen and a half acres.
While LangeTwins has long held high sustainability credentials, they continue to push forward.
“It’s a constant,” says Kendra. “There’s always something more we could be doing, and we always want to keep improving. What’s most fun is the opportunity to expand beyond our comfort zone.”
And when venturing into the uncomfortable is described as ‘fun’, you know the future of sustainable wine is in safe hands.
Follow the Lange Family at Naked Wines
Nick Baines is a food and travel writer based in London.