Califonia Bountiful

A look at Ironstone Vineyards

Family-owned winery balances production and conservation

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If you were to list all of John Kautz's accomplishments in his 60-plus years in agriculture, it would take pages and pages. But to list what he is most proud of in his career, it would take less than a sentence: building a sustainable farm that can be passed down to a future generation.

"My greatest pleasure is in working with family and where we're all working toward the same goal, and then to have something to leave to them as well," he said. "My legacy will live on through them."

John and his wife, Gail, have raised four children—Kurt, Jack, Stephen and Joan. All play integral roles in the family enterprises, which include John H. Kautz Farms, California Hot Wood Inc., Kautz Ironstone Vineyards and Winery, and Bear Creek Winery.

The Kautzes own and operate more than 5,000 acres of vineyards in Lodi and the Sierra Nevada foothills, with many of the winegrapes going to Ironstone in Murphys. While the winery is the ultimate destination of the family's grapes, the farm property is where John started his conservation practices.

The innovative entrepreneur implemented drip irrigation in the vineyards years ahead of others. He also pioneered the use of integrated pest management to naturally combat destructive insects, starting back in 1970. And most recently, he built a water recycling project that naturally treats wine wastewater from the family's winery. The water is purified and then can be used to irrigate fields. John said he hopes other farmers can implement the system and adapt it to their needs.

"If people can see what we do and care about it as much as we do," he said, "then they'll really appreciate the farmers of California."

For more information about Ironstone Vineyards, visit

John and Gail Kautz, Ironstone Vineyards

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