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King Estate – We Owe The Future: The Biodynamic Journey

People are looking for things that are better,
they want better choices, they want to make better decisions about their food and the
way they live, and I think Biodynamics is going to deliver that to people. The King Family, and I think King Estate,
as a winery, believes in doing the right thing and setting a good example—that it has an
impact far beyond our boundaries and it’s a message that is important in the world today. Biodynamics takes things to a different level,
it turns itself away from monoculture, looks holistically at the entire estate and it judges
the diversity and the integration of a lot of different components. We have wetlands, timberlands, prairie, we
have old growth oak forests, we have berries and orchards on the property. Biodynamic farming, to me, represents a return
to how farming used to be. And when you think about agriculture and how
it’s evolved, in the 20th century, it really started to become removed from the idea of
a complex system with many operating parts, to more of a monoculture where we were trying
to manipulate specific narrow areas. Whereas, biodynamics, it tends to look at
the whole system in general, and not so much what can you do to manipulate it, but rather
what can you do to promote the whole system? What do we want out of Oregon Pinot Noir as
an industry, or what does the industry want out of Oregon Pinot Noir? And I think, as winemakers, what we really
strive for is expression of terroir, expression of place. I think Biodynamic really embodies that philosophy,
it focuses on localized inputs, really letting the vintage and vineyard express itself. I think the way we think of it is a holistic
approach to agriculture. Rather than certifications like organic that
focus on individual parcels, we’re really looking at the entire farm. Rudolf Steiner, the founder of the movement,
essentially, he emphasized farmers really to not look at their property not as a factory,
but more as a living organism, and that’s really what we’ve tried to embrace here. There were a few things that we had to do
to specifically to become Demeter Certified that we weren’t doing previously. The main one of these is the incorporation
of Biodynamic preparations. We incorporated preparation 502 through 507
to the compost pile. In the Spring of 2016, we applied Biodynamic
preparation 500 to the soil on all the vineyard acreage, as well as the orchards and the gardens. The other thing we had to do was to begin
to incorporate the use of the Biodynamic calendar. So, this looks at the position of the celestial
bodies in the sky and, depending on their position, there are certain days that are
more conducive to, say, rooting, flowering, fruiting, or leaf growth. So, the first time we implemented that was
with a new planting of Pinot Noir in the Spring of 2015. And so we specifically looked for days that
were root days to promote root growth and establishment of those vines. Our philosophy is to always be paying attention
to how the vines are growing, and make always a huge effort to tend them, and to make sure
that at the end of season we end up with the best quality we can. King Estate has had that vision about being
responsible from the very beginning. As an example, what we’re doing says that
it’s possible, it’s feasible, and yes—everybody can do it. And that’s the important piece of this. It’s not a question of whether this works
or not, we know it works. The question, though, still is keeping it
alive, and giving people a different path away from chemical, industrial farming. Sometimes great changes come from small examples.

About Gregory Ralls

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