Since 1981 John Williams had a vision for Frog’s Leap Winery that was a first for the wine making industry. Williams wanted to make the best wine without hurting the environment. For over 30 years Frog’s Leap pioneered the way their plants were grown, harvested, and maintained. From LEED certification to 100% solar powered offices and wine tasting rooms, Frog’s Leap is thriving on sustainability. Frog’s Leap puts corporate social responsibility before debt. John Williams sums it up in one sentence:
“The first step is to conserve,” John said “The second is to produce.”
Frog’s Leap Winery and Sustainability
John Williams, an undergraduate of Cornell obtains an internship at Taylor Wine Company, and discovers that he loves wine. John makes a trip to the Napa Valley on the Greyhound Bus and meets a frog farmer named Larry Turley (frogsleap.com, 2015). After a couple of drinks and two bottles of wine later they decide to open a winery. Larry helps John get a job with his friend Warren Winiarski at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. John continues to learn the wine making business while helping bottle Stag’s ’73 Leap Cabernet (frogsleap.com, 2015). The two men coin the name Frog’s Leap and its motto “Time’s fun when you’re having flies!” while drinking wine of course! It was not until 1981 that the two men actually opened Frog’s Leap and began producing wine with grapes from another local vineyard (frogsleap.com, 2015). In 1981 Frog’s Leap produced its first wine made, 653 cases of Sauvignon Blanc (Thompson, 2014 p. C-425).
Over the next several years Frog’s Leap continues to make wine but John is convinced that organic farming will produce a healthier vine and a better wine. In 1988 John seeks more information to become the first winery to “go organic” (Frogsleap, 2015). John is now introduced at industry meetings as "that hippie farmer". In 1989 Frog’s Leap receives California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) status.
Throughout the next 20 plus years, Frog’s Leap continued to pioneer the way organic wine was made and produced. John Williams explains the difference between organic wine and an organic winery:
We are not an organic winery but we are a winery that makes wine from certified organically grown grapes (CCOF.org) and have since 1989. We have long believed that the greatest impact that organic principles can have on the process of winemaking is in the vineyard. A small amount of organic sulfur is added during the winemaking process (the part of the equation that the USDA considers “non-organic”) a practice that is thousands of years old and is, we believe, essential when making wines that are intended for cellar aging (frogsleap.com, 2015)
This way of farming was not without turbulence. John and Larry ultimately parted ways (Larry starts Turley Wine Cellars) and John continued his dream. For Frog’s Leap to continue they had to move to a new location and start fresh and they did just that. By 2010 Frog’s Leap was producing 62,000 cases of prominently red wines (Thompson 2014, p. C425) yearly.
During these times, Frog’s Leaps focus was to become as sustainable as it could. In 2006 they opened the industry’s first LEED-certified wine tasting and office facility. LEED or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. LEED certification means healthier, more productive places, reduced stress on the environment by encouraging energy and resource-efficient buildings, and savings from increased building value, higher lease rates and decreased utility costs (leed.isgbc.org, 2015). By doing this Frog's Leap became Napa's first LEED certified commercial building, complete with a geothermal warming and cooling system. The closed-loop system consists of 20 different wells and has the capacity to cool a total of 10 houses (Stone, 2011). The environmental preservation is impressive, reducing carbon