The Cowhorn Estate
Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden is located in the Applegate Valley appellation of southern Oregon. Our 117-acre property is just a few miles north of the California border, alongside the Upper Applegate River. About 25 acres are planted to wine grapes.
Our estate is different from most others, in important ways. To start with, we chose grape varieties that are historically associated with the Rhône River wine region of France: Syrah and Grenache for red wine, and Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne for white wine. While our latitude is a bit lower than the Rhône, and our growing season is shorter, other qualities are similar, especially to Châteauneuf-du-Pape: river-side bench-land with little rain, hot summers, and rocky soils that don’t hold much water. The folks in the Châteauneuf region obviously figured out which grape varieties excel under these conditions, because their wine has been famous (and fabulous) for a long time. So even though these varieties are not widely planted in America, they’re right at home in our estate vineyard.
Cowhorn is certified as a Biodynamic® farm and winery. You can think of Biodynamic farming as “organic 2.0”: all the goodness of organics, plus more. We don’t use anything synthetic, toxic or harmful. Instead we build up the soil with micronutrients, allow beneficial plants to grow between the vine rows, and encourage other creatures to live in and around the vineyard.
There are not many certified Biodynamic vineyards in the U.S., and fewer certified wineries. Our nature-focused farming and winemaking contribute to the many dimensions of richness and complexity in our wine.
We use only our own grapes, and our winery is about 100 feet from the vineyard. This direct and intimate control of materials and production is another factor that sets Cowhorn apart. It’s a lot easier to make great wine when you don’t have to buy grapes from other places, or truck them in from far away, or let someone else decide the best moment to harvest. (If you eat from your own kitchen garden, you know how this works.)
Our vineyard is planted much more densely than most in this country, with around 2600 vines per acre. The symbiotic competition among our vines – for water, nutrients and sunlight – helps to keep their fruit production low and their fruit quality high. This means we’ll never be a big winery, but as our vines mature our wine can keep getting better.
Our vineyard is part of a polyculture farm, which means grapes are not the only crop. We also grow asparagus, cherries, lavender, and heirloom orchard fruit as well as hazelnut trees inoculated with the Périgord black truffle. This may not affect wine quality that much, but we have no doubt that it makes for a happy farm all year round. Come see for yourself!
“Southern Oregon’s Viticultural Star”