At King Estate, the winery came before the restaurant, but we have always sought to enhance the experience of our wines with good, wholesome food. Since our inception, our culinary department has produced recipes, special dinners, and cookbooks with some of America’s greatest chefs. When we opened the restaurant in late 2005, we incorporated the organic ethic that drives our viticulture and farming. This ethic of organic production considers the impact our decisions will have on future ecological and economical harmony. It requires looking ahead and resisting the monetary benefits or “conveniences” offered by alternative approaches.
Environmentally friendly farming contributes to the quality of our food, wine, water, soil, and community. Sourcing local product supports local farms and ranches that are vital to food security. Communities everywhere are noticing these benefits and pursuing local, organic food.
It is of key importance that our restaurant partners with vendors and purveyors that share our ethic. Sourcing product locally means we know our partners personally. Our restaurant serves organic produce that we grow or source from local, organic farms. Our meats are raised humanely by local ranchers. Our beef comes from our neighbor, a stone’s throw down Territorial Road, Knee Deep Cattle Company; they raise hormone and antibiotic free, grass fed, free range cattle. Our lamb comes from Cattail Creek Farms (Junction City). They are a long time supplier to Alice Water’s famed eatery, Chez Panisse, and their sheep have grazed in our vineyards. Our pork comes from Laughing Stock and Sweet Briar Farms (both in Eugene). Our seafood comes from the Pacific (40 miles), and is provided by vendors ranging from local, independent fishermen to Seattle based Ocean Beauty Seafood. When we need specialty import products, we try to source them close to home through companies like Provvista Specialty Foods (Portland).
Mike Wooley, owner of Long’s Meat Market (Eugene), is instrumental in supplying our local meats. We can tell him what we need, and trust that it is from a quality source. The relationships he has with his suppliers go back years:
“It’s about relationships over time, I come from farm country too, so the people that I work with, we understand each other. It’s a mutual respect.”
That is the respect King Estate strives for in our relationships with the land, the people that enjoy our wines, and our suppliers. Mike sees other advantages to being sustainable, and we agree:
“If you were to have one thing you really enjoy in your life, say, shoes, and you had the opportunity to know your shoemaker face-to-face, so that every time there was something wrong with your shoes you could say to them, ‘You didn’t do these the same way you did last time,’ you can have some feedback. If I go to a corporate beef processor and use their product and I say to them, ‘Hey, those New York steaks you sent me this week were full of fat, there was nothing good about them and I’m not happy about it,’ they’ll say ‘Well, maybe the next delivery will be better.’ But if I say that to one of my small ranchers they’ll say, ‘Whoa, what did I do wrong? What can I do to remedy that?’ You just can’t have that kind of conversation with a big corporation.”
To augment estate produce, we source fruits and veggies from Organically Grown Company (Eugene), Hey Bales! Farm (Lorane), and Creative Growers (Noti). La Mariposa (Sweet Home) and Fern’s Edge Goat Dairy (Lowell) supply our cheese. La Mariposa is led by an Argentine cheesemaker who brought his wisdom to America, creating a buttery, mild, semi-hard cow’s milk cheese. Fern’s Edge is renowned for its biodynamic farming. Their fine chèvre is made with milk from a happy herd of award-winning Mt. Zion goats that roam their grassy hillsides.
We close the cycle wherever we can. The organic waste our restaurant produces (along with local chicken manure, horse manure, grape pomace, and hay) is turned into rich compost that will enhance our gardens, orchards, and vineyards for years to come. That’s what sustainability is about. We’re not willing to sacrifice quality for sustainability, and we don’t compromise our sustainability in our quest to produce high quality wine and food. One visit to our restaurant will show you that all our effort is worth it, and that it is possible to optimize quality and sustainability at the same time, all while supporting your state and local economies.