A six generation commitment to quality, resourcefulness and hands-on hard work.
Beltane Ranch is recognized as an Agricultural Preserve. We are committed to regenerative agriculture – caring for the land and life – to produce crops of quality, using practices that improve the health of the land while drawing from the wisdom of the land stewards before us.
- Regenerative winegrowing
- Organic olive and produce farming
- Ranch-wide composting
- Rotational grazing with solar-powered fencing
- Free range poultry as pest control and fertization
- Pollinator habitats and managed honey production
- Stewarded open space with grazing suppression of fire fuels
- Wildlife corridors
- Education and engagement
Our farming in the NEW YORK TIMES
“To Lauren and Alex Benward, sixth-generation owners of the Beltane Ranch vineyard in Glen Ellen, Calif., the word “sustainability” does not adequately convey the agricultural measures that they and many of their fellow vineyard owners have adopted in recent years. Steering clear of pesticides and industrial tillage is a no-brainer. They also use roving chickens to forage for pests, maximize soil fertility by planting cover crops like ryegrass and employ a herd of sheep — referred to as “woolly weeders” — to help fertilize the fields. Even the vineyard’s wine shipments reflect land stewardship: Bottles — recycled, with natural corks — are transported with carbon-neutral shipping.”
“This holistic approach to land management is called regenerative agriculture. It eschews conventional farming techniques and taps into composting, pollinator habitat restoration and other measures to encourage nutrient-dense soil. These practices also curb skyrocketing carbon emissions by coaxing carbon from the atmosphere and into plant roots, a process known as carbon sequestration. Nitrogen, supplied by cover crops, helps the process.
To get a peek of what life is like at a small, all-hands-on-deck working vineyard, book a stay at Beltane Ranch’s cozy six-room inn. You’ll get up close and personal with the weed-eating sheep (not too close, or the guard dog will treat you as a predator), pop over to the retro camper that serves as the chicken coop and hop in a four-wheel drive to check out the donkeys, longhorn cattle and horses whose eating habits function to reduce the weeds that fuel fires. The bucolic setting also includes a horseshoe pit, a preserved 19th-century “roadhouse” festooned in ivy, and slightly wayward flower gardens and various chill-out areas ideal for drinking the estate’s crisp sauvignon blanc. A stay comes with a ranch-sourced breakfast served under ancient oak trees. And, yes, the scraps are used for chicken feed and compost.”
FOCUS on FARMING
Our vineyard was first planted to grapevines in 1879 by Captain John Hamilton Drummond. Building upon the knowledge and innovations of the 19th and 20th century stewards, we’re committed to achieving quality and consistency in our estate wines by best caring for the vines, soil and ecosystem. Regenerative winegrowing at Beltane Ranch means hands on hard work, listening, learning and responsible practices including cover cropping with rotational grazing for weed control and fertilization, being present, working the vineyard by hand and farming without herbicides or tilling. Our vineyard is weeded by Wally the Wooly Weeder and his flock.
Produce Garden and Stone Fruit Orchard
The garden and orchard provides our kitchen with a wide variety of heirloom produce and herbs. The 1 acre plot is farmed organically and regeneratively and amended with compost from our ranch-wide composting program. Much of the produce is started from seed in our greenhouse. The garden serves a pollintor habitat and is a lovely place to enjoy a picnic.
A few highlights from the garden: Heirloom tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, potatoes, squash and squash blossoms, artichoke, brussel sprouts, beets, radishes, snap peas and romano beans. And some favorites from the orchard: Heirloom peaches, nectarines, cherries, plums, pears, apples, asian pears
Free Range Chickens
Beltane Ranch is home to a flock of heritage breed laying hens. The chickens forage throughout the day, providing pest control, fertilization and cultivation while, enjoyed a varied diet. The lay eggs in their retrofitted, recycled, mobile coop, which are collected each day for our culinary programs. This system is especially beneficial to our olive farming as they are rotated through the orchard improving the growing conditions and encouraging biodiversity.
Aside from actively farmed land, we steward over 100 acres of open space in the heart of Sonoma Valley, providing a habitat for wildlife, pollinators, and native flora, recharging groundwater and sequestering carbon. The land is actively managed by best practices including using rotational grazing to suppress fire fuels.
Pollinators including Honey Bees
Many pollinators make their home at Beltane Ranch. We’ve transferred naturally swarming bees from the property to hives to support and expand their population and produce honey. Beekeeper Joy Wesley tends to the hives and pollinator habitats are supported throughout the property.
Our olive orchard is a field blend of 8 varieties of olives, organically farmed and extra virgin pressed into our estate olive oil blend. The chickens provide pest control and fertilization to the orchard.
For more information on our farming practices, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org