If only Johann and Maria Lange could see the home place now.

The small, dryland farm they established near Acampo, Calif., in the 1870s to grow watermelons has continued to thrive and expand. Today, the fifth-generation family operation manages 8,000 acres of wine grapes in the Lodi and Clarksburg appellations. The grape-growing side of the business includes the family’s vineyards and a vineyard management service that oversees the production and harvesting of wine grapes for other vineyard owners in San Joaquin, Sacramento, Yolo, and Solano counties.

The winemaking side features an energy-efficient, labor-saving, state-of-the art winery. There, the Langes crush about 20,000 tons of grapes each year, producing some 75,000 cases of wine for the family’s case goods program including labels such as LangeTwins, Caricature, Nickname and Green Hills. The family also produces over 3 million gallons of wines for the bulk market and case good programs for various other wineries.

 

More from Western Farm Press

Chipotle ads disgraceful to farmers everywhere

What happens if US loses California food production?

Drought is farmers’ ‘ah-hah’ moment on environmentalism

 

Brad and his twin brother, Randall, have been farming as partners since 1974. That’s when they purchased a portion of the family land from their father, Harold, grandson of Johan and Maria. The two brothers have been directing the growth and operation of the LangeTwins family business ever since.

Their approach is based on respect for the land, responsible energy use and a desire to make authentic, high quality wines using environmentally-friendly farming and winemaking practices. 

“Sustainable winegrowing is a way of life for our family,” says Brad.

Those aren’t just words, either. In fact, in 2006 the family’s San Joaquin County farm was the first in California to earn the national Leopold Conservation Award, which honors private landowners for outstanding land stewardship.

 

Want the latest agricultural news each day? Click here for the Western Farm Press Daily e-mail newsletter.

 

Their resource-conserving practices include the use of neutron probes to monitor soil moisture levels regularly; custom-built electrostatic sprayers that cover four rows at once for more efficient use and application of materials while minimizing impact on the environment;  and introducing and preserving native grasses and trees and installing nesting boxes for owls, birds, and bats to encourage the presence of wildlife and a healthier, more diverse and stable environment.

In the meantime, aided by Brad’s wife, Susan, and Randall’s wife, Charlene, the two brothers have also assumed another role. They’re grooming the next generation of Langes to take over the farm, when that time comes. Their children – five in all between the two families – have returned to the farm after completing college. Each of them – Marissa, Aaron, Philip, Kendra and Joe – have specific responsibilities on the winery and viticulture teams.