Food For Thought, a new radio show on Eugene station KLCC 89.7 FM airs on Sundays at noon. The hosts are Boris Wiedenfeld and Ryan Dawe-Stotz. Boris is the manager of Sundance Wine Cellars and Ryan is the “wine and food guy” at Marché Provisions (Marché founder Stephanie Pearl Kimmel was King Estate’s first culinary director). Both are active in the local food and wine community and are dedicated to shedding light on what “sustainability” means and why we should care about it. The guest host of the July 18 episode was Adam Bernstein, executive chef at Adam’s Sustainable Table who is well-known for using local and organic produce. Adam says sustainability is “about being able to create a dynamic where we are able to use renewable resources to have the smallest possible impact on our environment and the world at large, preserving as much for future generations as humanly possible.”
Chef Adam Bernstein
of Adam’s Sustainable Table
Illustration by Chris Waterman
Courtesy of Eugene Magazine
[audio:Food4Thought.mp3|titles=KLCC Food 4 Thought|autostart=yes]Listen to an Excerpt Above or Download the Full iTunes Podcast.
At King Estate, we’ve been making wine sustainably for going on 20 years, always guided by a philosophy of quality without compromise and by the principles ‘stewardship, family, tradition.’ To a large extent, sustainability is not about what happens today, but about creating a system in which the resources are still there for tomorrow. Our 1,033 acres, including the orchards, kitchen gardens, flower gardens, and at the heart, 470 acres of organic wine grapes, are certified organic. And so is our winemaking process. Our wines bearing the “Domaine” moniker are made with estate grown organically farmed grapes. We believe that in the kitchen, organic tastes better, is healthier, and more nutritious. And in the vineyard, organic means healthy soil and a balanced ecosystem that at King Estate encompasses the largest contiguous organic wine grape vineyard in the world. When the Kings first purchased this property, it was a 600-acre parcel, formerly operated as a cattle ranch. Ever since that first day, before anyone had coined the word sustainability, the intention was to restore the delicate balance in this ecosystem.
We’ve never believed that we had to use synthetic chemicals in order to make our growing operations work, after all, up until 1945 all agriculture on earth was organic. Manual labor, mechanical means, and organic compounds work great. Sheep eat weeds, and add fertilizer to the ground as they work; Pretty efficient right? A healthy population of raptors (owls, hawks, eagles) control rodents and other pests that might harm the crops. The integrated pest management approach, which includes planting crops along vine rows that attract beneficial predatory insects, helps get rid of non-beneficial insects. Many of these practices are tried and true, and have been proven over generations, yet they have somehow been forgotten or recast as “pseudo-science” in favor of petro-chemical addiction (not just fuels, but pesticides and fertilizers) and other so-called “conventional farming” practices. We’ve learned through our experiences that when you take care of nature, nature is more likely to produce the finest fruit, and when that happens our winemakers don’t have to be heavy handed in the winery to produce excellent wine. Quality and sustainability are not mutually exclusive, in fact in many cases it’s the opposite that’s true.
We know that if we put some harsh chemical into the ground or on the crops, that it ends up in our river, the Siuslaw, the same river that waters our gardens, flows through the fields of our neighbors, and runs alongside the homes of our children. We would like to be known as stewards of the environment, and never as a winery that upsets the delicate and beautiful balance of nature.
Chef Bernstein and the hosts of the show discussed King Estate’s reputation as, “one of the greenest, most sustainable wineries in the nation,” and the makers of delicious, high quality organically grown wines, which some wine critics not so long ago believed was an oxymoron. When a restaurateur like Adam chooses to offer local, sustainably grown wines, like those made by King Estate, he is helping bring awareness of organic vineyards and eco-friendly farming practices to the public’s attention. It’s quite common to think in terms of organic carrots or organically raised chickens, but many people still do not think of wine as having a part in that sustainability puzzle.
We at King Estate are very happy to be a part of this discussion of sustainability. After all, we’re all on this planet together.
Stay tuned for part 2 of this post as we focus on our estate culinary program, and the great organic vendors we work with in and around the Eugene community.