Selim Zilkha has spent a lifetime searching out sustainable solutions to life’s everyday complexities. With a background in such varied industries as retail for mothers-to-be and their babies, natural gas exploration and renewable energy, Zilkha’s most pleasurable pursuit by far has been implementing sustainable methods at Laetitia Vineyard & Winery, on California’s Central Coast.
Born into a banking family in Baghdad, Zilkha bought the Laetitia property in 1998 with high hopes of moving the winery toward self-sufficiency. His first order of business was amassing a team of people who caught the vision, starting with his own daughter, Nadia Zilkha, in marketing.
Nadia has focused on conveying the Laetitia message of elegant pinot noir and sparkling wines crafted from the best of both ancient and modern sustainable methods.
Vice President of Vineyard Operations Lino Bozzano, has worked closely with Zilkha to employ creative methods such as cover-cropping and goat grazing, which preclude the need for harmful pesticides and herbicides or tractors that run on fossil fuels. President and Head Winemaker Eric Hickey has been instrumental in completing and championing the Vineyard Team’s progressive Sustainability In Practice (SIP) certification process, of which Laetitia is a founding participant.
Other pursuits in the ways of sustainability on the ranch include a complete analysis/retrofit of their irrigation system to ensure that they are accommodating the needs of the different soil types on the ranch, as well as more mechanization (to assist in the labor shortage) and employing bio control strategies, such as raptors and falcons to hunt and feed on animals which attack the grapes.
Today, Laetitia Vineyard & Winery and its sister brand, NADIA, are thriving according to benchmarks by which many producers are measured. “Differentiating our wine from others in the region while still honoring its similarity is both challenging and exciting,” says Nadia.
“I’ve really enjoyed working alongside my father, who has taught me a great deal. He’s fascinated with technology and encourages our team to apply it both in farming and in winemaking.”
The Laetitia Vineyard and Winery tasting room is located at 453 Laetitia Vineyard Drive in Arroro Grande. They are open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call (805) 481-1722 or visit laetitiawine.com.