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LangeTwins Winery earns conservation award, is featured in book

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Posted: Friday, May 27, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 12:45 pm, Sat May 28, 2011.

One of the Lodi area’s largest wineries is featured in a book recognizing its role in land conservation, solar energy and preserving critters on and near their vineyard.

LangeTwins Winery and Vineyards was one of eight farms throughout the country awarded the Leopold Conservation Award by the Sand County Foundation for voluntary conservation and ethical land management.

Brad and Randy Lange, who own LangeTwins off Jahant and Lower Sacramento roads in Acampo, once had only 13 elderberry bushes, but they planted 200 more in the 20-plus years the vineyard has been in their hands.

The beneficiary is the valley elderberry longhorn beetle, which is designated as a “threatened” species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The beetle inhabits the Central Valley from southern Shasta County to Kern County.

The Langes, who produce 40,000 to 55,000 tons of winegrapes each year, are also featured in a book called “Generations on the Land — A Conservation Legacy,” by Joe Nick Patoski, who lives in Texas.

The chapter devoted to the Langes takes the reader through the hectic grape harvest, how the Langes have farmed for five generations, four of them in Acampo, and how Brad and Randy Lange led an effort to restore elderberry bushes. It also includes comments about the relationship among family members, starting with twin brothers Brad and Randy Lange, their wives and adult children.

The book describes the family as “nine Type-A personalities,” but they work and play well together, Patoski writes in his book.

In the first half of the 20th century, farmers didn’t think about preserving habitat. That included the grandfather and great-grandfather of Brad and Randy Lange.

“That’s what farmers did in those days — they cleared it and farmed it,” Randy Lange said.

Brad Lange talked about the leadership role he took in helping bring federal authorities, environmentalists and farmers together to achieve a mutual understanding. They drew up a mutual agreement to preserve animals and their habitat, especially the valley elderberry longhorn beetle.

The beetles like the LangeTwins vineyard because it is surrounded by Gill Creek, Jahant Slough and the Mokelumne River.

Brad Lange helped create what is known as the Safe Harbor Agreement in 2006, which protects landowners from prosecution for accidentally killing an endangered species. In exchange, landowners restore habitat for these species. It took three years of negotiations, he said.

“We met them in the middle of the road,” Brad Lange said. “The Lodi area tends to be family farms. All want to be stewards of the land. A lot of folks are doing the right thing.”

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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