Vineyards Are Laying the Groundwork for a Regenerative Farm Future

March 18, 2024 | Source: Civil Eats | by Lisa Held

On a cold, rainy day in late February, it’s hard to picture the bunches of juicy cabernet and chardonnay grapes that will decorate the Vineyards at Dodon’s neat rows of gnarled vines come summer, the fruit ripening in the hot sun.

But even during these dormant months, across 17 rolling acres just 30 miles east of Washington, D.C., the landscape is filled with life.

Long, diverse grasses blanket the ground around and between the vines. In one section, two dozen vocal sheep munch happily on those plants, leaving their waste to stimulate regrowth up and down the aisles. Three acres of meadows provide habitat for insects. A petite blue bird darts across the horizon, flitting between a few of the 600 diverse young trees—loblolly pines, hazelnuts, and plums among them—that are just establishing themselves around and within the perimeter.

This is what Tom Croghan means when he says that, “under the right conditions,” grapevines are especially good at executing nature’s most common magic trick: absorbing carbon dioxide from the air during photosynthesis and then depositing it far below ground, hopefully for a long while. “We can pay [to create those conditions],” says Croghan, Dodon’s co-owner, “because we can use a byproduct of that system to produce wine.”