The Story of Regenerative Vineyard Farming in Oregon: Part II
In part I I discussed the history of Biodynamic farming in Oregon and its connection to regenerative farming. Here I am calling out several estate wineries who walk the walk on Biodynamic and regenerative farming in the Willamette Valley:
Montinore Estate, Forest Grove (5) is a vineyard keeping regenerative practices alive, and, with 200 Biodynamic acres under vine, it also holds the title as the largest estate Biodynamic wine grape producer in the US. Established in 1982, and certified as Demeter Biodynamic in 2008, President/Chief Viticulturist Rudy Marchesi and Head Winemaker Stephen Webber shepherd 9 grape varieties through their Biodynamic paces: Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Muller-Thurgau, Teroldeo, Lagrein, Muscat and Sauvignon Blanc. Dry farming (the practice of non-irrigation), as well as organic and sustainable practices are implemented as well to further qualify them as worthy of recognition as a regenerative farm.
Brooks Winery, Amity, OR (6) started by Jimi Brooks in 1998 and certified Demeter Biodynamic in 2012, concentrates on Pinot Noir and Riesling, though the winery has branched out to more varieties including Petit Sirah, Muscat, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Syrah. Brooks learned about Biodynamic farming in France and brought the practice back with him to Oregon. To compound their local environmental stewardship, they plant trees via the “Ecologi Project” and donate 1% of revenues to the “1% For the Planet ” program. Their many claims to fame include their wine being poured at Obama’s first White House State dinner in 20097 and being listed in Wine & Spirits magazine Top 100 Wineries several years running. They prove that regenerative practices in the right hands often equal better wines.
Cooper Mountain Vineyards, Beaverton, OR (8) started organic and Biodynamic farming in the early 1990’s and became the first Demeter-certified winery in 1999. In addition, they practice carbon mitigation to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions during the fermentation process, a known contributor to the climate change slowly increasing average temperatures around the world. Since the early Oregon vintners came here for the cool Pinot Noir-friendly climate, warming temperatures will pose a threat to the future of this coveted grape here in Oregon and Burgundy. Kudos to Cooper Mountain for considering all the environmental impacts of grape farming and wine making.
In Applegate Valley in Southern Oregon, Troon Vineyard, Grants Pass (9), has made a big impact in the wine world for high quality premium wines from Southern France varietals. They are both Demeter Biodynamic and Regenerative Organic certified. Recent accolades include one of five nominees for American Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast Magazine. Their certifications insure practices of low intervention improving soil health through composting, natural yeast, natural predators such as raptors, sheep and goats to provide fertilizer as well as weed control. They were the subject of no less than three essays on regenerative farming published for the Jancis Robinson annual essay contest. Plus, you can taste their wines at their McMinnville tasting room if you can’t make it to their vineyard/farm.
Oregon leads the pack of US vintners on environmental stewardship. These winemakers are just a few of the hundreds of vignerons in Oregon who practice a little or a lot of the earth-sustaining practices discussed here from fully certified Demeter Biodynamic farming to carbon mitigation to common sense fertilizers, as well as pest and weed control without synthetic chemicals. And I haven’t even discussed “green” packaging advances (bottles, corks, labels, boxes), electric vehicles (fork lifts, EV charging stations for employees and visitors) and many other small steps wineries may take towards reducing the environmental impact of grape farming and wine making.
We can thank Oregon vintners for utilizing these principles in our backyard and making wine we can feel good about drinking. Research the regenerative practices used by your favorite wineries and if you can’t find any, consider wineries that do— the future of our planet may depend on it!
(Photo: Courtesy of Brooks Wine)