Vineyard Manager Jaime Muniz has been working at Santa Margarita Ranch since the first grapes were planted in 1999. Jaime is skillful at growing high-quality grapes with a keen eye for sustainability.

On that note, we caught up with Jaime to gain insight into our sustainability efforts at Margarita Vineyard, as seen through the lens of one particularly unique tool in the box: seaweed fertilizer.

What can you tell us about this vineyard superfood? 

I’ve been using seaweed fertilizer for more than 10 years at Margarita Vineyard. It started with trial usage on vines that had suffered frost damage—both as a spray onto the vines and as a liquid in the drip system. The damaged vines really bounced back, and I’ve been using the seaweed ever since. It’s a great natural alternative to chemical fertilizers.

Where does the seaweed come from—and how does it work?

It comes in juice form from a company in Nova Scotia. It’s entirely natural. It contains nutrients that promote canopy and root growth. I’ve been to seminars where they show how this seaweed enhances plant root growth by 50 to 60 percent. That’s huge, because the vines get their nutrients and moisture through their roots. The vineyard is healthier overall, and the fruit quality is better as a result.

It’s also good for the environment, correct?

Yes. Using a natural fertilizer like this also helps keep the soil healthy. That’s good for the vines, and it’s good for the planet. If you just do what’s easy and cheap, it will catch up to you. Sustainability is all about the long term. It costs more, it requires more labor, but it’s the right thing to do.