Now the Largest Biodynamic Vineyard in U.S.
(Eugene, OR) – King Estate Winery is now officially the largest Biodynamic® vineyard in the United States as certified by Demeter USA.
“Achieving Demeter certification holds us to the highest possible standard in sustainable agriculture,” says Ed King, winery Co-Founder and CEO. “It is testimony to the grit and determination of King Estate’s people to go beyond organic and do our part to protect the Earth for future generations.”
Sustainable farming is nothing new for King Estate, the 1,033-acre vineyard and winery best known for its acclaimed Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir as well as its breathtaking setting in the Lorane Valley and award-winning restaurant. The winery has been certified organic by Oregon Tilth, an internationally recognized certifying body, since 2002. But Demeter certification as Biodynamic represents a major step forward in King Estate’s commitment to sustainable agriculture.
“Stewardship of the land is a core value that guided our family when we established and built King Estate Winery 25 years ago and continues to this day,” King says.
Biodynamic takes organic to a new, higher level. For example, while the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which operates the National Organic Program, allows individual parcels within a farm to be certified organic, Demeter requires that the entire farm be certified. Other Demeter requirements that exceed those of the USDA include:
- 10 percent of the total acreage must be set aside for biodiversity purposes;
- fertilizers are generated on the farm itself with only a limited amount brought in;
- pest, disease and weed control and livestock feed all come from the farm itself to the greatest extent possible. This is accomplished through the use of nine preparations, a hallmark of the Demeter process, that are made from herbs, minerals and animal manures that are used in sprays and compost.
King Estate applied for certification in September 2015 and was designated as “in conversion” to Biodynamic status in late January. In order to receive full Demeter certification, the vineyard must complete a full agricultural cycle following Demeter practices and pass an inspection, which occurred July 5. Certification was effective Sept. 23.
With the addition of King Estate, Oregon is home to more than 30 percent of the Biodynamic vineyards in the U.S. Before King Estate, the largest Biodynamic vineyard in Oregon was 286 acres under vine, or planted with grapes. Oregon has some 17 Biodynamic vineyards ranging in size from 10 acres to King Estate, with 465 of its 1,033 acres under vine.
Organic certification applies to all 1,033 acres of the estate as well as to the winemaking process, the winery and the grapes.
“The trend toward Biodynamic agriculture is unmistakable and irreversible as consumers and growers alike see the benefits of holistic and regenerative farming,” says Elizabeth Candelario, Demeter managing director, based in Corvallis, Ore. “Every farm or vineyard that achieves certification represents progress, and when farms the size of King Estate take this step it shows that these farming ideals can be scaled to larger operations. We welcome King Estate to the Demeter family and know that they join us in our vision to help heal our planet through agriculture.”
Farming organically requires more than not using synthetic herbicides, fertilizers or pesticides. King Estate has long incorporated sustainable practices across its entire property, in keeping with Demeter’s holistic approach to agriculture. For example:
- A protected natural habitat composed of 150 acres of marshes, a riparian corridor and a remnant of wet prairie is home to up to 200 species of native wildlife including several listed as rare, threatened or endangered.
- Within the 150 acres are 40 acres of mostly native oak woodlands, among the most endangered ecological communities in the Pacific Northwest.
- In partnership with nearby Cascades Raptor Center, the property serves as a release site for orphaned and rehabilitated birds of prey. These native wild raptors also aid in pest control by reducing the numbers of rodents and birds that eat grapes.
- 4,144 solar panels are installed on four acres, producing enough power to meet the needs of 100 homes a year and eliminate more than 38 million pounds of carbon dioxide over the next 25 years.
Named for the Greek goddess of agriculture, Demeter was formed in Europe in 1932 following a series of lectures to a group of European farmers by noted scientist Rudolf Steiner, who also founded the Waldorf School. These farmers had asked Steiner for guidance because they were noticing a rapid decline in seed fertility, crop vitality and animal health that corresponded with the rise of industrial agriculture and factory farming. Steiner urged farmers to think of their farms not as factories but as living organisms: self-contained, self-sustaining and able to meet their needs out of the living dynamics of the farm itself. Today this is called regenerative agriculture. Operating in 50 countries, Demeter remains the world’s oldest ecological certification organization. Demeter USA was established in 1985.
With the winery in the background, workers at King Estate plant Pinot Noir vines using compost made with Biodynamic preparations that enhance the decomposing process.
About King Estate: Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, King Estate is located southwest of Eugene, Ore., at the southern tip of the Willamette Valley. Founded in 1991 by the King family, King Estate is committed to producing wines of exceptional quality under sustainable farming methods, organic certification with Oregon Tilth, and Demeter USA’s Biodynamic standards. King Estate focuses on producing world-class Oregon Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir, and wines from the inland growing regions of Oregon and Washington under its North by Northwest label. To this day, King Estate is owned and operated by the King family.
About Demeter: Demeter Association, Inc. is the United States’ representative of Demeter International. We are a not-for-profit incorporated in 1985 with the mission to enable people to farm successfully, in accordance with Biodynamic® practices and principles. Demeter’s vision is to heal the planet through agriculture.