Vitality in the Gardens at Cowhorn

June 8, 2017

Vitality in the Gardens

Our practices in our gardens are focused on the goal of improving the vitality of our soils. We believe that soil health directly contributes to strong, healthy crops. Presently in the gardens we are growing asparagus, lavender, hazelnuts inoculated with Périgord black truffle, cannabis and a kitchen garden. These products are sold to local food cooperatives and restaurants. The backbone of our farming program is our tillage program which gently aerates the soil, removes unwanted weeds, and helps break down cover crops which provide nutrients to the crops. On a holistic level, our soil vitality is enhanced by the application of Biodynamic® compost, compost teas, Biodynamic® preparations, and by habitat diversity (farming with the wild). Our compost program, which is based on organic cow manure and our own green waste, provides organic matter and nutrients to the soil and crops. Compost teas and vermiculture are used to control pests and to encourage complexity of the microbiological activity in the fields. Although it certainly takes more time and attention to detail (compared to conventional farmers) to incorporate each of these steps -we feel that as a result the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts, and a synergy is born that positively impacts the quality of all the products we grow at Cowhorn.

Biodynamic Farming + Futuristic Construction at Cowhorn

April 18, 2017

Spring greetings from the Applegate Valley! As we enter the second quarter, I would like to share with you some insights in to what makes Cowhorn different.

Perennial Polyculture at Cowhorn

The Biodynamic® farming method is a holistic system in which all the elements of the farm are important – air, water, soil, rocks, daytime, nighttime, animals. In essence, the growing of plants is a transfer of energy from those sources to a single point – the plant. When energy from those sources rearranges itself, a dry, hard, lifeless seed springs green. Biodynamic® farming uses methods to enhance the energetic plane in the farm, or in other words support the transfer of energy between forms. As these dynamic forces are strengthened, the dynamic and life-giving properties of the plant and earth are strengthened. So what does that mean about our farming techniques, or how do we do it? First, Cowhorn is a perennial polyculture, which means we grow and harvest more than a single crop and that those crops live more than one season. Biodynamic® farming rests on several key principles, one being that biodiversity is good for all creatures, great and small. Another principle of Biodynamic® farming is that the intellect of humankind is to be used. We must be respectful and thoughtful of all the realms that exist in our lives and spaces. For us, we have put that principle into action by intending to blend technology and art in the best way that we can to support the energetic principles mentioned above. In the vineyard, our spacing and trellising system is based on a mathematical equation of plant heights and length, and a ratio of leaves to clusters. A third principle of Biodynamic® farming is the application of specialized preparations that act as “fertilizers.” Generally referred to as “preps,” we adhere to the standards developed by the Demeter Association and are experimenting with tailoring our application programs as we gain more knowledge about our farm.

Cowhorn Builds First Tasting Room to LBC Standards

Completed in June 2016, our new tasting room is the first tasting room in the world built to Living Building Challenge (LBC) standards from the International Living Future Institute. The Living Building Challenge standard is based on 20 imperatives organized into seven performance “petals” or areas: place, water, energy, health/happiness, materials, equity and beauty. Every directive within a petal must be met, and you can accept anywhere from one to seven of the challenges. Always ones to embrace a good challenge – naturally Bill and Barb chose to pursue all seven. The LBC standards relate not only to construction, but also to operation and the mandates must be documented and metered for 12 months before certification is granted. For example, the water and energy petals demand the building, renovation or landscape and infrastructure be net positive; the building must collect and treat all water on site and produce more energy than it uses. It will be a year of audits and inspections, but by the end of the year, our new tasting room may be the 41st building in the world that will be fully certified, the first tasting room fully certified and the first commercial building in Oregon fully certified.

To learn more please click on the following link: https://www.oregonwinepress.com/challenge-accepted-cowhorn

Thank you for reading. Please let me know if you have any questions about our Biodynamic® farming methods or the Living Building Challenge.

Best regards,

Josh Kimball
National Sales Manager
Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden
541-954-4715
www.cowhornwine.com

How Cowhorn Came to Be

February 21, 2017

Greetings Trade Partners!

Here’s a little history on Cowhorn that I thought you might find interesting.

How Cowhorn Came to Be

Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden was born in the summer of 2002 when co-founders Bill & Barbara Steele decided it was time to take a leap of faith. Their dream was to purchase a piece of land in Oregon where they could create a new model of small-scale farming, one that would be economically viable, good for the community and good for the earth. Their dreams bloomed into reality with the purchase of the 117-acre Straube Farm which was established in the 1850’s as a local dairy farm. Located deep in Southern Oregon’s Applegate Valley, the farm had been abandoned since the 1990’s, and at the time of purchase didn’t have any roads, fencing or irrigation, but what it did have was twenty foot high blackberry bushes, weeds and even a group of squatters living in the old farm house. The next two years were dedicated to observing and listening to the farm (old world farming) while simultaneously analyzing the property utilizing 90 different soil tests (new world precision). With no previous experience in farming and willingness to plant whatever their analyses determined would excel on their land – Bill and Barbara planted the first five acres of gardens in 2004 followed by ten acres of Rhone varietals in 2005. Little did Bill & Barbara know at the time, but Cowhorn would soon be on its way to producing some of America’s most compelling Rhone style wines.


New Vintages Now Available


2013 Syrah 21: 92 Points
“Vivid Ruby. A highly perfumed complex bouquet evokes black and blue fruits candied flowers smoked meat and incense plus hints of Indian spices and earth in the background. Sweet and expansive on the palate offering intense black raspberry and blueberry flavors that pick up a suggestion of cracked peppers as the wine opens up. Powerful but surprisingly lithe and sappy and very long with sneaky tannins framing the juicy berry fruit.”

2015 Viognier: 91 Points
“Pale gold. Highly perfumed incisive aroma of ripe lime white peach and white flowers lent vivacity by a chalky mineral element. Concentrated yet lithe and nervy on the palate offering intense citrus and pit fruit flavors and hints of honeysuckle and white pepper gain strength as the wine opens up. Shows impressive tension and cut on the bright finish and leaves behind a suave floral note.”

2015 Marsanne Roussanne: 91 Points
Bright straw. Aromas of nectarine pear nectar yellow plum and pungent flowers carry a hint of white pepper in the background. Concentrated yet lively on the palate offering expansive orchard and pit fruit flavors that are given a refreshingly bitter edge by a zesty lemon pith note. Clings with impressive tenacity on the silky finish which leaves a note of candied violet behind.”

2015 Spiral 36: 90 Points
“Pale gold. Aromas of ripe orchard fruits tangerine honeysuckle and minerals plus a hint of sweet butter in the background. Juicy and expansive on the palate offering concentrated Meyer lemon pear and melon flavors given spine by a vibrant mineral undertone. Displays very good clarity and spicy thrust on a long sappy finish that shows no rough edges.”

Josh Raynolds – January 2017

Best regards,

Josh Kimball
National Sales Manager
Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden
541-954-4715
www.cowhornwine.com

Biodynamic Grape Growing in 2016

September 13, 2016

The 2016 growing season at Cowhorn has been a long one, and one that is shaping up to be one of our best ever. We experienced our earliest bud break on record this year on April 8th and by the end of August we were at 2,195 degree days compared to 2,190 in 2012, which was also a great vintage. We endured some extended heat waves early on, but for the past few weeks have been resting easy at night taking full advantage of some cool fall weather. Over the years we have come to the conclusion that we have never made the mistake of picking too late. We are in it for the long run this year determined to keep the canopy healthy, boost photosynthesis and achieve full phenolic ripening.

One way to achieve this is by utilizing Biodynamic® preparation 501 in concert with these cool temperatures. 501 as you may know is ground up quartz found on our property that we mix with water, stuff into cow horns and then bury underground in the spring. We dig the horns up in the fall and then combine this mixture with water that will be sprayed on our vines. The recipe for an entire acre is an insanely small amount at 1/2 tsp. of 501 per acre. Remember, this is homeopathic farming at its best and the tiniest amounts of love can go a really long way. Once we spray our vines, the 501 will act like millions of tiny reflectors on the leaves working to enhance photosynthesis. We have seen tremendous results using 501, and have decided to be more aggressive this year by scheduling seven additional sprays that we will conduct throughout the rest of the season. In most years we only use it twice, but 2016 is telling us to step it up, and when Mother Nature speaks we tend to listen.

Best regards,
Josh Kimball
National Sales Manager
Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden
541-954-4715