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From War to Winemaking: Napa Valley Initiative Empowers Ukrainian Vintners with Regenerative Agriculture


In a unique collaboration, Roots of Peace and Grgich Hills Estate, supported by Rotary International, fuse peacebuilding with regenerative viticulture to support Ukrainian winemakers amid ongoing conflict

Rutherford, CA., May 22, 2024 – Amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, Grgich Hills Estate in partnership with Roots of Peace and supported by Rotary International, is hosting an immersive regenerative viticulture training program for Ukrainian vintners, showcasing the positive impact of agriculture as a means of fostering global peace and community resilience.

From June 3rd to June 9th, 2024, six distinguished Ukrainian vintners will engage in a comprehensive “hands-on” training focusing on regenerative viticulture and natural winemaking. This initiative not only aims to elevate the quality and sustainability of Ukrainian wines but also demonstrates the powerful role of agriculture in peacebuilding.

Violet Grgich, President and CEO of Grgich Hills Estate, said, “We are deeply honored to share our expertise in regenerative practices with our Ukrainian colleagues. This program is a testament to our belief that agriculture bridges cultures and supports communities through the most challenging times.”

The training leverages techniques that have revitalized vineyards in Napa Valley and Sonoma drawing parallels with the current needs of Ukrainian vineyards. Participants will learn from leading experts including Ivo Jeramaz, VP and Winemaker at Grgich Hills Estate, Bernat Sort Costa, Regenerative Organic Research Manager and Sebastian Erggelet, Winemaker, whose innovations in organic farming and winemaking have been widely recognized.

Georgiy Molchanov, Head of the Association of Craft Winemakers in the Black Sea Region, expressed his gratitude and optimism: “I think that this is a unique program of cooperation with the New Wine World of America, and it can be argued that Ukraine is a new star on the world wine map. We are grateful that in wartime, we have the opportunity to collaborate with Roots of Peace, Grgich Hills Estate, and the support of Rotary International on this special project that supports the peaceful profession of winemaking and gives us a chance for the future.”

Participants include:

  • Georgiy Molchanov, Head of the Association of Craft Winemakers in the Black Sea Region and Director of Chista Voda, where he combines community service with his winemaking passion.
  • Vladimir Palariev, CEO of Frumushika Nova Winery, focuses on combining traditional and innovative winemaking methods to enhance the sustainability and traceability of his products.
  • Pavlo Magalias, a veteran of the Russian-Ukrainian war and Winemaker at Olbio Nuvo Winery, known for his commitment to revitalizing the ancient winemaking traditions of the Mykolaiv region.
  • Svitlana Tsybak, CEO of Beykush Winery, a boutique winery in Mykolaiv region, and President of the Ukrainian Association of Winemakers, championing innovative and sustainable winemaking practices.
  • Olha Kashchenko, a small winemaker and sommelier from Kherson region, who is driven by a mission to rebuild and sustain the wine culture in her community post-conflict.
  • Olha Molchanova, Sommelier at Slivino Village Winery in Mykolaiv region, who integrates local traditions with modern biodynamic and organic winemaking approaches.

Heidi Kuhn, Founder and CEO of Roots of Peace, remarked, “This collaboration is a powerful stride towards healing and growth for Ukrainian vintners. By imparting sustainable and peace-centric agricultural practices, we are planting seeds of hope and economic stability for war-torn communities.”

Event Highlights and Curriculum:

The training program at Grgich Hills Estate is designed to cover a comprehensive range of topics critical to the advancement of regenerative viticulture:

  • Training Sessions: In-depth workshops on regenerative viticulture.
  • Climate Impact and Vineyard Resilience: Participants will delve into strategies for enhancing vineyard resilience against climate variability. This includes adaptive management practices that can buffer vineyards against extreme weather events and changing climatic conditions.
  • Principles of Regenerative Viticulture: The curriculum emphasizes soil health and the ecosystem services that vineyards can provide. Discussions will explore methods to increase biodiversity, improve water cycles, and enhance ecosystem interactions that benefit both the vineyard and the surrounding environment.
  • Practical Sessions in Historic Vineyards: Trainees will visit some of the Regenerative Organic Certified vineyards in Napa Valley, where they will learn about specific practices such as pruning techniques and their impacts on vine health and yield.
  • Natural Winemaking Techniques: Another key component of the training involves natural winemaking practices, focusing on minimal intervention techniques that align with regenerative agricultural practices to produce wines that reflect the terroir.
  • Innovative Pest Mitigation and Vineyard Care: Addressing challenges in pest management and plant health, the program will cover sustainable strategies to manage pests and diseases while maintaining the ecological integrity of the vineyard.
  • Cultural Exchange: Discussions on the integration of traditional and modern winemaking techniques.
  • Press & Media Luncheon: Scheduled for June 5th, 2024 between 12:00PM and 1:30PM Pacific Time, at Grgich Hills Estate, offering media exclusive interviews and insights into the program’s impact.


Grgich Hills Estate was founded after Vintners Hall of Fame inductee Miljenko “Mike” Grgich first earned world-wide recognition when the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay that he crafted won the 1976 Paris Tasting, beating the best of France and drawing international attention to the Napa Valley.  Mike then partnered with Austin Hills of the Hills Bros. Coffee family in the pursuit of creating the best wines in the world, and chose Independence Day, July 4, 1977, to launch their family-owned-and-operated winery.

Today, Grgich Hills Estate is 100% estate grown and Certified Regenerative Organic through the Regenerative Organic Alliance (ROA), a leading force in the Regenerative Agriculture movement worldwide. Referred to as “Organic Plus,” regenerative farming is a science-driven approach focused on no-till soil management, building organic matter to sustain microbial life, incorporating livestock and biodiversity and caring for people who work in the fields and winery. It is a key component of combating climate change and reducing greenhouse gas pollution. In 2022 Grgich Hills Estate was recognized as one of the world’s “Top 100 Wineries” by Wine & Spirits Magazine. For more information click here.


Roots of Peace supports the world’s most vulnerable farmers and traders, removing the remnants of war and restoring agricultural productivity and prosperity. Roots of Peace is a humanitarian organization dedicated to the removal of landmines and the subsequent replanting and rebuilding of war-torn regions. Founded in 1997 by Heidi Kuhn, the goal of Roots of Peace is to turn minefields into farmland and support victims of landmine accidents. For more information click here.


We are the first web based Ukrainian Rotary club with operations supported by web technologies and electronic communications. Our Club is just like any traditional Rotary club. The only difference is that members meet online to coordinate service projects and enjoy fellowship with likeminded Rotarians. The mission of Rotary e-Club Ukraine is to connect, inform, inspire and involve members in Service Above Self from around the world. More information can be found at http://rotaryeclubukraine.org/.