Napa Valley’s biodynamic winegrowing pioneer Mark Neal is pleased to announce that his Howell Mountain estate winery, Neal Family Vineyards, has achieved Regenerative Organic Certified® as recognized by the Regenerative Organic Alliance (ROA). The ROA was established in 2018 and is today considered the highest level of certification. There are only five vineyard estates worldwide that hold Regenerative Organic Certified® status and Neal Family Vineyards now represents the first Napa Valley vineyard to receive this certification.
“I first achieved organic certification in 1984 but being the first in Napa Valley to achieve the Regenerative Organic Certified® stamp of approval is still an exciting accomplishment for us because of what it stands for,” said Neal, vintner, founder, and owner of Neal Family Vineyards. “ROA was founded to address climate change, soil degradation, biodiversity loss, factory farming and fractured rural communities globally. Regenerative organic agriculture is a collection of practices that focus on regenerating soil health and the full farm ecosystem. This new certification goes farther than any other organic certification – including CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers) – by requiring specific farming practices that build soil health, ensure fairness to farmers and farm workers, and improve animal welfare. We have always exclusively used organic and biodynamic practices in our vineyards, and this certification further cements that commitment to the land and our community.”
Mark Neal is considered one of Napa Valley’s earliest organic and biodynamic pioneers and the valley would not be where it is today without his early advocacy for organic farming. He and his father started Jack Neal & Son (JNS) in 1968 and his vineyards have been certified organic starting in 1984 – long before there was any marketing cachet around sustainability. Today, under Mark’s leadership, Jack Neal & Son manages the most CCOF Certified acres in Napa Valley and can claim the largest biodynamic farming operation in the United States, effectively making Mark Neal one of Napa Valley’s most influential grape growers when it comes to ethical farming.
The ROA was founded by Patagonia (the American outdoor clothing retailer that has become a paragon of environmental and social responsibility activism), Dr. Bronner’s (the largest organic soap and personal care company certified under the USDA’s National Organic Program), as well as a group of farmers, business leaders and experts in soil health, animal welfare and social fairness. Before a company can apply to become Regenerative Organic Certified®, they must first hold a National Organic Program certification. After that, they must prove and demonstrate soil health practices, such as no or minimal tillage, cover cropping and crop rotation; social fairness in the form of living wages and healthy working conditions for employees; and animal welfare with pasture-based grazing. The criteria for the animal welfare scope includes the Five Freedoms; freedom from hunger or thirst, freedom from discomfort, freedom from pain, injury or disease, freedom to express normal behavior, and freedom from fear, distress, and mental suffering.
In a recent letter from Patagonia Founder, Yvon Chouinard, to the brand’s customers about upcoming changes to the company, Chouinard said, “Earth is now our only shareholder,” and that is something Mark Neal truly believes in. Since its founding in 1998, Neal Family Vineyards has always been a leader in educating and demonstrating organic practices in the Napa Valley. The winery’s four estate vineyards have been certified organic by CCOF since 2009 and certified biodynamic by Demeter Biodynamic since 2021. Alongside Fetzer Vineyards, Bonterra Vineyards, Truett Hurst, and Tablas Creek, Neal Family Vineyards is one of the few winery estates in California to receive Regenerative Organic Certified®.
About Neal Family Estates
Family owned and operated, Neal Family Vineyards is a boutique winery that specializes in crafting Cabernet Sauvignon from meticulously farmed, 100% biodynamic, and 100% estate vineyards on Neal Family’s signature Howell Mountain and Rutherford Dust properties in Napa Valley. Founded by Napa Valley biodynamics pioneer Mark Neal, Neal Family Vineyards believes great wines come from great ingredients that only organic and biodynamic vineyards can produce. After taking a leading role in the implementation of certified organic and biodynamic agricultural practices in Napa Valley, Neal Family continues to commit to organic and biodynamic practices. All four of the winery’s estate vineyards have been certified organic by CCOF since 2009, certified biodynamic by Demeter Biodynamic since 2021 and was the first Napa Valley vineyard to be Regenerative Organic Certified® by Patagonia’s Regenerative Organic Alliance in 2022. Mark also owns and operates Jack Neal & Son (JNS) Vineyard Management, the largest biodynamic farming operation in the United States. For more information, please visit www.NealVineyards.com/.
About Regenerative Organic Certified®
Regenerative Organic Certified® is an agricultural certification for food, fiber, and personal care ingredients. Based on three pillars, it requires farmers to go above and beyond by practicing agricultural techniques that ensure healthy soil, the ethical and humane treatment of animals, and fairness for farmers and workers. It was created to address the climate crisis, soil degradation, biodiversity loss, factory farming, and fractured rural economies globally. For more information, please visit https://regenorganic.org/