During the 2019 Harvest, we completed our first audit with Ecocert and we are pleased to announce that our Home Block Vineyard and CedarCreek Winery have been officially certified organic. We believe whole-heartedly that caring for the land means thinking sustainably and farming organically. By eliminating all weed sprays and insecticides, and depending mainly on canopy work and careful attention in the vineyard, our soil is coming alive and our ecosystem is thriving. The results of this work is also reflected in the dynamic and high-quality wines we are able to produce.
“Organic farming doesn’t mean we’re hands off. In fact, we have to work harder but the end result is worth the investment.” —Kurt, Senior Viticulturist at CedarCreek.
This transition to organic continues to influence our philosophies and practices in the vineyard and winery. Chickens, bees, worms, and cover crops are just a handful of the sustainable projects we are working to implement to create a dynamic and vibrant ecosystem.
“The way we farm with organics creates a demand for the the vines to drive their roots deeper,” says Kurt, Senior Viticulturist at CedarCreek. “This deepening of the root structure creates change as the vines explore below ground and that’s reflected in the canopies just slowing down and coming a bit more into balance.”
Sustainable Practice In Action
“Sustainability can be a broad, vacuous term, but we are making efforts to reduce waste on property, to bring in honey bee pollinators on site, as well as chickens and worms.” says Taylor Whelan, Head Winemaker.
A couple of years ago, we introduced honey bee hives to our Home Block Vineyard as part of our transition to growing and producing certified organic grapes and wine. Kurt Simcic, our viticulturist, worked with Arlo’s Honey Farm to deliver 18 hives. Although grapes are self-pollinating, bees help with the promotion of wildflowers, beneficial plants (such as crimson clover and mustard), and beneficial insects in the vineyard.
The presence of earthworms in our soils is a sign of good soil health and a promoter of a more dynamic ecosystem overall. These little creatures like to burrow through the soil creating tunnels and improving aeration. To create a hospitable environment for the worms, our vineyard team works hard spreading composts, brewing and pouring worm teas, and even creating biodynamic preparations to encourage native bees, predatory birds, mushrooms, and other critters to share our soil.
Chickens are just another way we are farming more holistically. Our now well-established flock of hens helps to create a crucial balance within our vineyards and ultimately will help us produce even better quality wine. These feathered friends help with the kitchen waste from Home Block Restaurant and compost creation that feeds our glacial soils.
One of the many new ways we have added to our vineyard maintenance to continue farming organically and holistically is by planting a dynamic mix of cover crops. A mix of alfalfa, crimson and other nitrogen balancing plants are planted seasonally which helps us to naturally maintain the health of our soils.