Robert Nadeau in the vineyard

Talking Sustainability with Robert Nadeau

Opolo’s Grower Relations Manager Robert Nadeau is a sustainability advocate who oversees our estate vineyards as well as our grower partners across Paso Robles. Robert is instrumental in administering ongoing SIP (Sustainability in Practice) certification for our vineyards, which is one of the most stringent certifications of its kind. He also grew up in Paso Robles, giving him a sweeping perspective on our region and its evolution. We caught up with Robert to learn more about the sustainable practices that are foundational to Opolo and the greater winegrowing community of Paso Robles.

Where does sustainability fit into the long-term picture of Paso Robles?

People have been farming wine grapes in Paso Robles for more than 100 years, and we’re still at it. We haven’t fallen off of the edge of the earth yet, but there’s so much we’ve learned along the way. There was a time when farmers didn’t fully understand the impact of their methods on the world around them, and that has changed greatly for the better over the past 25 or so years. Instead of being willy-nilly, we’re doing things like pinpointing water usage and nitrogen inputs on a vine-per-vine basis. Thanks to programs like SIP, we have a clear and proven path for doing right by the land, the environment and our people. In addition to farming practices, SIP requires you to responsibly manage your human resources as well. Sustainability is about community as well as the environment.
Opolo Vineyards is SIP Certified

“Sustainability” has become a buzzword in marketing. But looking beyond the hype, why is sustainable viticulture so important?

Sustainability isn’t an empty buzzword, it’s a true and quantifiable way of doing things that has been adopted by the vast majority of winegrowers here in Paso Robles. It’s a way for us to responsibly manage our natural resources for the next 100 years and beyond. I also think it makes a better and more wholesome wine—it forces you to be ultra-mindful about what you’re doing in the vineyard, which can only elevate quality.

Opolo Vineyards practices sustainable methods
View of a tree through the vineyard vines
Owl on a vineyard post

What is an example of a sustainable practice at Opolo that makes a quantifiable difference?

We keep a very close eye on water, which is a precious resource in Paso Robles and California. It’s one thing to simply run your irrigation, it’s another to carefully quantify the amount and impact of the water you’re using. With a program like SIP, you’re forced to look at the data. Pumping water is expensive, it requires a lot of energy. On top of that, water is a limited resource. So it behooves us to know not only how much we’re using, but why and when. As a winegrowing community, we’ve gotten much smarter and more targeted with our water usage. New technologies have helped us use and track water much more efficiently. We’re literally all in this together—groundwater is a shared resource. This is just one example of the many gains we’ve made in conserving and managing our resources in a sustainable manner.